The first day of the Rugby Championship saw South Africa largely dominate New Zealand 26-10 in Nelspruit on Saturday, then Australia overwhelm a valiant Argentina (41-26) in Mendoza at the end of the match.
New Zealand, which remained on two losses in a row against Ireland in July, suffered a third consecutive defeat, against the Springboks who sometimes gave a lesson in rugby to New Zealanders.
The All Blacks, who have been scarecrows in the world of rugby for the past decade, are no longer scary: they have won only one of their last six matches, where they beat Ireland (3 times), France and now South Africa.
The Springboks exerted enormous pressure from the kick-off in defense which considerably thwarted the passing game which is often the strength of the All Blacks, put on the back foot.
A corner try from Kurt-Lee Arendse (8th), served by Lukhanyo Am who had taken advantage of a poor reception from Jordie Barrett on a school candle from opener Handré Pollard, quickly made this takeover a reality.
The All Blacks, to whom the South Africans left only crumbs in the first period, could consider themselves lucky to be only seven points behind at the break (10-3), as they had been dominated.
After a more balanced start to the second half, which then allowed the All Blacks to attempt some major moves, the teammates of Lood De Jager, their second-line giant who flew over the debates, resumed their march forward, and Handré Pollard scored the points, between penalties and drops.
“We managed to achieve everything we wanted to do,” said South African captain Siya Kolisi.
Dominated in all compartments, Sam Cane’s teammates were slightly deluded by scoring a try by Shannon Frizell (78th) while South Africa evolved to 14 after the exclusion of Arendse for a dangerous load on Beauden Barrett, in the air and without the ball on a new candle from an impeccable Pollard.
– Australia turns the tide –
But even in numerical inferiority, it was the South Africans who drove the point home with a humiliating last try from Willie Le Roux, taking advantage of yet another fault to flatten between the posts.
The Springboks remain masters at home against the All Blacks: 26 wins, against 24 for the New Zealanders.
A few hours later in Mendoza, in a Malvinas Argentinas stadium which had not been full, the Pumas were overwhelmed in the last twenty minutes by an Australian team which won 41-26.
Between the 65th minute, where they went ahead for the first time in the game thanks to a penalty from Reece Hodge who had replaced Quade Cooper at the start of the second half again injured, and the end of the match, the Wallabies inflicted a 17 -0 to their opponents.
The Pumas led almost for three quarters of the match after the opener by their N.8 Pablo Matera in the 6th minute.
But the temporary exclusion of their second line Lavanini for a foul that earned the Australians a penalty try in the 62nd minute hurt them a lot.
Euphoric at the end of the match, the Wallabies, orphans of their emblematic captain Michael Hooper, forfeited at the last minute, even obtained the offensive bonus point by scoring a fifth try by Ikitau in added time.
For the second day of the Rugby Championship, defending champions New Zealand will once again cross paths with the Springboks next Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. On the same day, Argentina will meet Australia in San Juan.
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