Five-minute blitz gets All Blacks home over Springboks

South Africa’s flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit tackles New Zealand’s hooker Dane Coles during Saturday’s match in Yokohama. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Five-minute blitz gets All Blacks home over Springboks

YOKOHAMA: Defending champions New Zealand burnished their credentials as favorites for the Rugby World Cup with a hard-fought 23-13 win against top contenders South Africa in a blockbuster match in Yokohama on Saturday.

The impressive All Blacks cut the Springboks to ribbons during a five-minute period of dominance in the first half that earned them two converted tries, and then saw off a determined second-half fightback to register the vital Pool B win.

Before nearly 64,000 fans in Yokohama’s International Stadium, the All Blacks set the game alight with the sensational scoring spree which was against the early run of play.

Until then the Springboks had enjoyed a huge territorial advantage but were unable to cross the line and had to rely on an early Handre Pollard penalty for their only points in the first half.

In a frantically paced second half they came within one try of regaining the lead before late penalties made the game safe for New Zealand.

For the fourth time in as many matches at this World Cup, the team that scored first finished second.

Perhaps it was nerves, but play was marred by many handling errors from both sides early in the contest.

South Africa’s reputed staunch defense was exposed by 26 missed tackles in the first half as the All Blacks’ pace proved too much.

After Springboks backrower Duane Vermeulen was given the honor in his 50th Test to lead the teams on to the field, Pollard quickly had the South Africans on the board with a handy penalty.

With the deft kicking of Faf de Klerk backed by the muscle of the South African pack, the All Blacks were pinned deep in their own half for most of the first quarter until a Richie Mo’unga breakout brought them into the game for the first time.

Although South Africa saved that try, Mo’unga landed the penalty to level the scores and almost immediately set up the next scoring move, as a chip kick to right wing Sevu Reece launched a 60-meter move that finished with a try to left wing George Bridge.

Influential center Anton Lienert-Brown sparked New Zealand’s next long-range counter-attack which saw lock Scott Barrett loom up in support for the try.

It took South Africa until the eighth minute of the second half to score their first try when Pieter-Steph du Toit brushed aside Aaron Smith to score near the posts.

Pollard narrowed the gap further with a 40-meter drop goal to have the South Africans a try away from taking the lead.

But late penalties by Mo’unga and man-of-the-match Beauden Barrett gave the All Blacks a 10-point safety net.


Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

Updated 17 November 2019

Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

  • World Cup semifinalists ‘still have room for improvement as they chase first major title since 1966’

PRISTINA:  Gareth Southgate is set to bring Raheem Sterling back from his brief England exile in Sunday’s qualifier against Kosovo as he seeks to end the controversy over the Manchester City star’s row with Joe Gomez.

Sterling was dropped for Thursday’s 7-0 rout of Montenegro after clashing with England team-mate Gomez in the Three Lions’ training base canteen.

It is believed Sterling was unhappy with Gomez following an altercation with the Liverpool defender during City’s Premier League defeat at Anfield last weekend.

Although Sterling was left out of the Montenegro game as punishment for his attack on Gomez, Southgate has confirmed the winger will return for England’s final Group A fixture.

Sterling and Gomez, left with a scratch under his eye after the incident, are said to have patched up their relationship, but the center-back was jeered by England fans at Wembley when he came on as a substitute against Montenegro.

Both Southgate and Sterling expressed their support for Gomez and criticized the booing supporters, with the England manager reportedly comforting the shocked 22-year-old and his family after the match.

Now Southgate could include Gomez against Kosovo in a show of support for the Liverpool player.

With England already guaranteed to qualify for Euro 2020 in first place in their group, Southgate already planned to make changes, although he is keen to ensure England finish with a win as they eye a top-six seeding in next year’s tournament.

“We will make some changes, for sure, but the seeding in the group could be critical and we know it’s a big night for the Kosovans,” Southgate said.

“It’s a shame for them that they’re now out of this part of the qualification, although they’ve still got the playoffs in which I think they’ll be a huge threat in that format. “So, it will be a good test for us because it will still be a lively environment.

“The enthusiasm for the game is high and we want to finish the group with as many points as we can.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could return following a one-match ban, while Southgate has to decide whether to keep faith with Ben Chilwell ahead of Danny Rose at left-back.

Harry Kane may have scored a hat-trick against Montenegro but it was Leicester’s Chilwell who was named England’s man of the match following a fine display in which he provided three assists in the opening 24 minutes.

“Ben, I liked the hunger in his game, the enthusiasm to get forward,” Southgate said.

“The whole team pressed well but he also pressed well from that full-back position, got into overlaps, his quality of delivery was excellent.”

Although England have cruised through their qualifying group, Southgate believes the 2018 World Cup semifinalists still have room for improvement as they chase a first major title since 1966.

“There were a couple of chances we conceded that just shouldn’t happen, so that’s still part of our game that we’ve got to improve upon,” he said.

“If we are to be a team that are going to challenge seriously, although we’re young, we’ve got to manage games well.

“We’ve got to make sure that, although we’re such a fantastic attacking threat, the rest of the team is right as well. There are things we’ve got to be better at.”