South Africa 18 – 20 New Zealand: 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi-Final
October 24th 2015, Twickenham Stadium, London
There was a 12-year wait before the Springboks and All Blacks would next meet at the Rugby World Cup, with their fourth encounter coming in the 2015 Semi-Finals. This match was the final stop on New Zealand’s road to immortality, as the All Blacks followed up this victory with a Final win over Australia, to become the first team to retain the title as World Champions.
New Zealand also wrote themselves into the history books, by becoming the first side to reach four Rugby World Cup Finals, in 2015. However, South Africa did all that they could to make it as tough as possible for the All Blacks. Handre Pollard presented his now all too familiar skillset from the tee, with a well taken penalty from far and wide for an early Springboks lead.
However, this 3rd minute lead lasted as long as it took to build, with New Zealand powering over for a sixth minute try. Legendary All Blacks blindside flanker Jermone Kaino made the initial break, and battled his way back into the attacking line. He was found by Richie McCaw’s looping pass, to dive over in the corner for the try. A well struck conversion from Dan Carter built a 7-3 lead, with the flow of this match constantly shifting in momentum.
Two more consecutive Pollard penalties regathered the South African advantage, with the match balanced on a knife’s edge for the most part. A fourth successful shot at goal sent the Springboks off at the break with a 12-7 lead, all courtesy of their resident place-kicker Pollard, and the poor defensive discipline of the All Blacks.
The iconic image of Dan Carter’s 35m drop goal followed shortly after the re-start. New Zealand’s halfback maestro dug deep into his back of tricks for a sensational effort that narrowed down the deficit. This turned the tied once more, with the tournament’s break-through star Beauden Barrett crashing over for a key try. Carter converted once again, with the match then following suit of previous iterations, with penalties traded for the closing moments.
Carter, Pollard, and replacement halfback Pat Lambie kept the match in the balance for the full 80 minutes. However, unlike previous kicking contests, this one was won by New Zealand, thanks to the unmatchable talents of arguably the greatest rugby player of all time, Dan Carter. The Twickenham faithful marvelled at ‘DC’, as he nailed a vital penalty from the touchline to edge the All Blacks far enough in front to reach the 2015 World Cup final.
New Zealand 23 – 13 South Africa: 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool B
September 21st 2019, International Stadium, Yokohama
Now we come to the latest Rugby World Cup meeting between the two sides, in what was the only occurrence to take place during a Rugby World Cup Pool Stage. South Africa had a long road to go before they would eventually lift the Web Ellis Trophy in Yokohama, with this opening weekend defeat in the International Stadium setting them onto the back-foot, in their eventual run to glory.
This match began in the same pattern as previous encounters, with Handre Pollard now trading penalties Richie Mo’unga, for an early 3-3 stand-off. However, what came next surprised even the most ambitious All Blacks fan, as New Zealand turned on the afterburners with two tries in four minutes.
New Zealand stunned the Springboks, as a superb Beauden Barrett offload found George Bridge, who was able to finish off an outstanding team move after 24 minutes. The Springboks looked dis-jointed, and were caught off-guard by another wave of All Blacks attack just moments after the re-start. Anton Lienert-Brown stepped his way through a gap, before popping the ball off to the supporting Scott Barrett, with the lock striding away on a clear line to score.
The try under the posts made for a simple conversion for Mo’unga, as the staggered Springboks re-grouped in a heated team huddle. The ‘Boks fired out fastest in the second half, with the ever-reliable Pieter-Steph du Toit’s try keeping his team within the contest. Pollard channelled his inner Joel Stransky with a drop goal against the All Blacks, and narrowed the gap to just four points with 20 minutes left to play.
Yet it was the Springboks’ own mistakes that cost them dearly, as Mo’unga and Barrett were more than happy to slot away two unanswered penalties, and build momentum with a memorable win. The gong sounded in Yokohama, and the sea of black jerseys rejoiced in victory, after what had been a gruelling first test for both sides in Japan.