ABs win but red card ruins a good game

DAVID LONG AT EDEN PARK
Last updated 19:00 14/09/2013
Ma'a Nonu and Kieran Read
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All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Kieran Read watch the match from the sin-bin after both receiving late yellow cards.

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The All Blacks won again at fortress Eden Park tonight in a result that leaves Steve Hansen's team with one hand already on the Rugby Championship trophy.

The 29-15 win will be deemed a controversial one in South Africa as Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis was sent off early the second half after receiving two yellow cards.

It could be argued this was Hansen's biggest test yet as All Blacks head coach and with the way his year is panning out, the Springboks look likely to be the only opposition who'll be able to give his side a decent game.

While South Africa posed a physical threat the All Blacks often found tough to handle, it was the home side's finer skills that allowed them to win their 30th test in a row at Eden Park.

It didn't start well for Dane Coles, with his first lineout throw getting picked off by Flip Van der Merwe and the first All Blacks' scrum wasn't much better with the Springboks rewarded with a penalty from it.

However, it took a stunning 40m kick from Ma'a Nonu in the third minute to get the All Blacks into the game and, from an ensuing lineout, stand in skipper Kieran Read picked the ball out of a ruck and drove over for a try.

Morne Steyn goaled a penalty in the 10th minute, but the next real action came six minutes later when an all-in brawl erupted after du Plessis put a big hit in on Dan Carter. 

The All Blacks reacted badly to it and the South African hooker was yellow carded, but numerous replays suggested there was nothing wrong with the tackle.

While it was probably legal, it did bring an end to the game for Carter, who had to be replaced by Beauden Barrett because of a shoulder problem.

Five minutes later, Brodie Retallick scored his maiden test try, which was inspired by a superb run up the middle of the field by Barrett and from the next phase Conrad Smith made the decisive pass to set up the lock.

Du Plessis made a big impact in his return to the game, scoring a try as the Boks got a rolling maul moving, but Barrett would later kick the first penalty of the game for New Zealand, making the score 17-10 at the break.

Two minutes into the second half du Plessis was seeing red and given his marching orders for the second time, for leading with his elbow as he ran into Liam Messam.

Referee Romain Poite was right to show du Plessis a yellow card for the offence but he was unfortunate to be dismissed given he didn't deserve the first yellow.

The All Blacks immediately made the extra player count with Read scoring his second try in the 47th minute and with a 14-point lead the game was as good as in the bag with 30 minutes left.

Sam Cane, despite wearing headgear to cover a nasty gash from an earlier knock, bravely soldiered on and scored the All Blacks' bonus point try in the 68th minute to further enhance his side's chances of retaining their Rugby Championship trophy.

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However, it didn't end well for the All Blacks with both Read and Nonu given yellow cards in the last 10 minutes.

Patrick Lambie soon capitalised and crossed not long after for a consolation try.

But it was a case of too little, too late as the All Blacks secured a relatively comfortable win, albeit not one without controversy.

New Zealand 29 (K Read 2, B Retallick, S Cane tries; D Carter con, B Barrett 3 cons, pen) South Africa 15 (B du Plessis, P Kambie tries; M Steyn pen, con) HT: 17-10.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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