LONDON - South Africa put in a masterclass of forward power to thrash New Zealand 35-7 in their Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture at neutral Twickenham on Friday, the biggest ever loss for the All Blacks in their 102-year test history.
It was a performance that serves as a warning to the Springboks’ rivals as they prepare to defend their World Cup title in France as they scored five tries through captain Siya Kolisi, wing Kurt-Lee Arendse, hookers Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi and flanker Kwagga Smith.
New Zealand played the entire second half with 14 players after lock Scott Barrett received a second yellow card, equating to a red, as they had no answer to the Springboks’ intensity and set-piece domination.
Replacement back Cam Roigard got a consolation try for New Zealand but coach Ian Foster will be alarmed at how his first choice selection were second best in every facet of the game ahead of their World Cup opener with France in Paris on Sept. 8.
"We were not going to come to Twickenham in front of 82,000 people and hold anything back," Kolisi said. "We knew it had to start up front with the forwards, but we also know the hard work starts now. We have to defend the World Cup in France."
New Zealand’s previous record loss was 28-7 to Australia in 1999 and while it will not quite be alarm bells in their camp, it was an uncharacteristically limp performance.
South Africa lost replacement fullback Willie le Roux in the warm-up with Kwagga Smith taking his place on the bench, giving the Boks an unprecedented 7-1 split between forwards and backs, turning their ‘Bomb Squad’ nuclear.
And so it proved as they all came on in one swoop in the second half and were able to subdue New Zealand further with relentless pressure.
The tone was set early on as New Zealand conceded the first eight penalties in the game and were pinned in their half.
The Boks had the upper hand in the scrum and line-out, and were held up twice over the All Blacks’ line before they scored their first try.
Kolisi barged his way over from close range, while Arendse’s quick feet saw him intercept on the edge of the New Zealand 22 and sprint in to score under the posts for a 14-0 halftime lead.
South Africa’s three second-half tries all came from line-outs as they powered their way through the wilting All Blacks defence that battled with their numerical disadvantage.
"We are really disappointed with how we performed, but a lot of credit must go to how the Springboks played. They were dominant in all facets and our discipline really hurt us," Cane said.
"Their ability to dominate the scrum, maul and lineout made it hard for us to get anything going. It stings, but we are going to have to learn a lot from this game. I would rather have it now than in a few weeks' time.
"The only good that can come out of it is if we have a good, honest review. Next week will be a really important one in terms of preparation."