BOK POWER: Malcolm Marx
BOK POWER: Malcolm Marx
INSPIRED: Etzebeth
INSPIRED: Etzebeth

Yet, South African rugby fans will be smiling today after their team were beaten 25-24 by New Zealand at Newlands on Saturday.

Given no chance heading into the encounter, captain Eben Etzebeth and his teammates proved to the rest of the country why they deserve to don the colours of the Rainbow Nation.

And it was their pack of forwards that laid the foundation for what will go down as one of the best Test matches of the year.

It was flyhalf Elton Jantjies that got the first points of the match when the hosts were awarded a penalty after a Kiwi infringement at the breakdown.

With the good, though, comes the bad and from the restart the Boks were penalised for accidental offside and Beauden Barrett made it 3-3.

It was the All Blacks that then piled the pressure on the Boks, but failed to convert their early opportunities.

Fans paid thousands to watch the match and got their money’s worth as the action move from one end to the other.

Tries, though, were not forthcoming as neither side was willing to concede the ground.

Jantjies again lined up for a shot at goal in the 24th minute, but this time failed to clear the crossbar.

Instead, it was New Zealand that would score next.

After 32 minutes, Jantjies had a kick charged down ending in an in-goal scramble that saw Ryan Crotty dot down for the first try of the match (8-3).

The hunger of both teams were then on display as they ran at each other for 10 unbroken minutes after the hooter for half time had gone.

Still, they couldn’t break each other down (8-3).

Fitness and conditioning were always going to be under the microscope in the second half and the Boks continued where they left off in the second half.

After a great run by Marx down the left touchline and taking the ball through multiple phases, Cronje dotted down under the sticks (10-8).

The Boks then went in search of their second five-pointer, but Cronje chucked a hospital pass to Courtnall Skosan which was intercepted by Ricky Ioane who sprinted home to give the All Blacks a 15-10 lead.

Then with 15 minutes left, the Boks scored their try of the match after a break by Marx who put Jean-Luc du Preez into space (17-15).

Another Cronje box kick saw David Havili launch a counter-attack that ended with Damian McKenzie running right through the Bok defence (22-17).

With five minutes left, Lima Sopoaga lined up a drop-goal, missed and was then elbow-charged late by Bok replacement Damian de Allende, who was in turn sent off with a red card for his foolishness.

That brought the curtain down on the Boks as the penalty conversion made it 25-17 and despite Marx dotting down from a rolling maul to set up a thrilling climax, it was the Kiwis that claimed the win.

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