AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Winger Nehe Milner-Skudder scored two of the All Blacks’ eight tries as they destroyed South Africa 57-0 at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday to condemn the Springboks to their worst defeat in test history.
The All Blacks were ruthless in their execution of their opportunities to post 50 points for the second successive time against the Springboks. Last year’s 57-15 win in Durban had been the previous largest winning margin between the two sides.
The win in front of more than 30,000 fans also surpassed the 53-3 victory England posted against the Springboks at Twickenham in 2002.
Rieko Ioane, Milner-Skudder, Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett all crossed in the first half to give the All Blacks a 31-0 lead at the break, before the right winger, Ofa Tu‘ungafasi Lima Sopoaga and Codie Taylor all scored in the second half.
Despite the scoreline, the Springboks created numerous opportunities themselves with their running lines, interplay and kicks into space but they were unable to penetrate the superb All Blacks’ defence.
“The Boks really threw everything at us,” All Blacks captain Kieran Read told reporters. “It was an intense test match. I don’t really know how we were up by so many points.”
The All Blacks had been criticised for their inability to exploit space throughout the season, particularly against the defensive linespeed the British and Irish Lions employed earlier this year in their drawn series.
On Saturday, they were ruthless in identifying space and taking their opportunities throughout the game.
”We are very proud of it,“ All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. ”The boys had a good week. We are trying to get better all the time and have been trying to work on a lot of things.
“We were pretty clear with how we wanted to play and a lot of things came off.”
The All Blacks had sealed the win by halftime with three long range tries from Ioane, Milner-Skudder and Retallick, while replacement Scott Barrett, who was on the field as Liam Squire underwent a head injury assessment, also crossed.
Milner-Skudder grabbed his second try in the 53rd minute and both coaches then emptied the benches, with Tu‘ungafasi scoring his first test try 10 minutes later.
The All Blacks dominated the final 20 minutes with the Springboks defending for much of it and it was testament to their grit they only conceded the tries to Sopoaga in the 73rd minute and Taylor after the fulltime hooter.
“I‘m very disappointed and the players are hurting,” Springboks coach Allister Coetzee said.
“We had a good plan and great preparation and the first 20 minutes, we played our best rugby. We felt we were on top and dominated collisions and one pass goes astray and you’re under the poles.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Pritha Sarkar