Home Rugby Five Talking Points After The All Blacks’ Demolition Of South Africa

Five Talking Points After The All Blacks’ Demolition Of South Africa

The All Blacks machine changed up a few gears and ran over the Springboks in North Harbour with a record 57-0 hiding. 

So now that the smoke has cleared and we can talk again, what is there to say about this incredible result?

1. Have the All Blacks found their back three for the 2019 World Cup?

Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane and Nehe Milner-Scudder were outstanding against the Springboks, collectively running a total of 290 metres, beating 18 defenders, seven clean breaks, three tries and only one missed tackle.

The scary thought is that Milner-Scudder is only 26, McKenzie 22 and Ioane is just 20. These three could form a back three to rival the great Cullen, Wilson and Lomu combination and could potentially be the back three for the next two World Cups.

Ben Smith is a champion player, but he and Israel Dagg have an uphill battle to unseat these three.

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2. The All Black bench is suddenly scarily good again

You might think taking off the likes of Aaron Smith, Sonny Bill Williams and Dane Coles early in the second half might lead to a let-up of momentum.

However, the All Black bench was ruthless and the intensity seemed to grow towards the 80-minute mark. Anton Lienert-Brown showed his dazzling ability, Codie Taylor must be one of the most improved players in New Zealand rugby, Lima Sopoaga’s game is on fire, and TJ Perenara was dynamic.

Added to this, young prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi showed for the first time why Steve Hansen has been patient with his development, with powerful scrummaging and drives including his first test try.

In fact, Lienert-Brown, Sopoaga, Scott Barrett, Tu’ungafasi and Taylor all scored tries off the bench – further underlining their potency.

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3. Is Aaron Smith back to the world’s best half-back?

Short answer: yes.

His influence on the tempo and direction of the All Blacks is undeniable and the difference in their speed of operations was noticeably faster against the Springboks than with TJ Perenara’s deliveries against Argentina.

His ability to capitalise from quick penalties has become a real weapon as we saw with his perfect kick ahead for Rieko Ioane’s opening try.

Northern fans may point to Conor Murray’s British and Irish Lions heroics, but when Smith is fizzing, he is even more influential than Beauden Barrett and Murray doesn’t have quite that extent of influence yet.

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4. Was it a false dawn for South African rugby or was this a one-off nightmare?

The answer to this question will come on October 7 when the All Blacks visit Newlands, Cape Town for their return match. Last year, the All Blacks thrashed the Springboks in the final Rugby Championship game, setting in motion a calamitous series of results for the Springboks culminating in a loss to Italy.

In the opening games this year, the Springboks showed definite signs of improvement.

They must somehow put this result behind them and focus on small gains in skill areas starting with the lineout before they achieve big results.

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5. Can England match them in 2018?

Not in this form but perhaps on a wet track with a pernicious referee – they can at least be competitive.

Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena

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