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WATCH: Five memorable Tests between the Springboks and New Zealand at Ellis Park

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Johannesburg – The All Blacks will complete their back-to-back Rugby Championship schedule of South Africa at Emirates Airline Park on August 13. It will be the 15th Test match between the great rivals at the venue since their first clash there in 1928.

Although Ellis Park is known to strike fear in the hearts and minds of visiting teams, the All Blacks can boast the most successful record of any nation at the stadium, having won there on five occasions. That includes the last encounter at the ground – a 27-20 victory in 2015.

Here, Morgan Bolton looks at five other matches, since readmission, that were epic encounters at The Park.

5 2013: October 5

Attendance: 60 634

South Africa (15) 27

Tries: Habana (2), Le Roux, De Villiers; Conversions: M Steyn (2); Penalty: Steyn

All Blacks (21) 38

Tries: B Smith, L Messam, B Barrett, K Read; Conversions A Cruden (3), Barrett (2); Penalties: Barrett

Both teams headed into the final match of that year’s Rugby Championship with the chance to win the title. Nevertheless, the pressure was on the Boks – who trailed the All Black in the standings – to win the encounter.

Even so, there was a sense of nervous anticipation that the Boks could beat the Kiwis and claim the championship.

Heyneke Meyer’s matchday 23 threw everything at the All Blacks, and then some, in a match that was breathless to watch as both teams traded relentless blows. The turning point came in the 61st minute when the Bok defence finally cracked and Baueden Barrett powered through to tryline to give the All Blacks a 31-27 lead – a lead they never relinquished thereafter.

4 2014: October 4

Attendance: 61 261

South Africa (21) 27

Tries: D Hougaard, H Pollard (2); Conversions: Pollard 3; Penalties: Pollard, P Lambie

New Zealand (13) 25

Tries: M Fekitoa, B Smith, D Coles; Conversions: B Barrett (2); Penalties: Barrett (2)

Flyhalf Handre Pollard – playing only his sixth Test for the Boks – might have scored 19 points in this match; but it will forever be his replacement, Pat Lambie, who is remembered as the player who secured victory for SA.

The All Blacks were on one helluva run in the build-up to this final round clash of the Rugby Championship. They were unbeaten in 18 matches in the tournament and, moreover, had not suffered defeat to any nation since 2012, when they lost to England.

The Boks started strong to lead 21-13 at the break but then the Kiwis showed all their class to limit the Boks to only one penalty for 38 minutes of the second stanza. Meanwhile, they rampaged ahead, scoring 12 points, including an unconverted Dane Coles try in the 69th minute, which gave them a 25-24 lead.

For the next 10 minutes, it seemed the All Blacks game management and propensity to claim victory would once again deny the Boks. Indeed, they had just won a scrum in the 78th minute short of their 22, which handed them back the advantage to seal another dramatic victory.

However, referee Wayne Barnes looked up at the jumbo screen at just the right moment, witnessing a replay which showed possible foul play on Schalk Burger earlier in the movement. He called on the TMO and on further review, it showed a swinging arm by Liam Messam to the head of Burger during the tackle by Dane Coles.

Barnes promptly overturned his previous decision, awarding a penalty to the Boks 55m out, albeit in front of the poles. Up to the tee walked Lambie with steely resolve in his eye; concentration flowing in his follow-through; a perfect strike sailing high and proud; and finally through the up-rights to seal a nerve-racking victory.

3 1992: August 15

Attendance: 72 000

South Africa (0) 24

Tries: D Gerber (2), P Muller; Conversions: N Botha (3); Penalty: Botha

New Zealand (10) 27

Tries: Z Brooke, J Kirwan, J Timu; Conversions: G Fox (3); Penalties: Fox (2)

From a historical point of view, the 1992 Test match against the All Blacks is one of the most important matches in South African rugby history as it marked the return of the Springboks to the international stage after the sporting boycott.

The match had several controversies before kick-off, revealing the deep political and racial divisions associated with rugby, which continue to be slowly rectified within the Springbok brand today. Despite previous agreements between the ANC and SARFU, the old SA flag was flown; Die Stem sung in protest by the overwhelmingly white crowd; while a minute’s silence to remember the victims of Apartheid and township massacres – such as what had occurred in Boipatong mere weeks earlier – was interrupted by chants of “Fok die ANC”.

The Star wrote of that particular instance: “For that moment inside the concrete bowl, it seemed like a besieged tribe had gathered to take strength in their numbers and to send, from the protected citadel, a message of defiance to their perceived persecutors.”

Relating to rugby, the Return Test also revealed a gulf in class, despite what the final scoreline might say.

The All Blacks were in control of the encounter for most of the clash, comfortably leading 27-10 with five minutes to go. Altitude played its part, no doubt, in those final moments with Danie Gerber crossing the whitewash twice to bring a bit of respectability to the final result.

2 2004: August 2004

Attendance: 61 261

South Africa (19) 40

Tries: M Joubert (3), B Paulse, J de Villiers; Conversions: P Montgomery (3); Penalties: Montgomery (3)

New Zealand (13) 26

Tries: M Muliaina, J Rokocoko; Conversions: A Mehrtens (2); Penalties: Merthens

An emphatic victory by the Boks under the tutelage of Jake White restored much needed faith in the Green and Gold after a disastrous 2003 Rugby Cup. The All Blacks raced to a 10-0 lead within six minutes but that was arguably the only moment of supremacy they enjoyed in the match.

From thereon in, the Boks – although behind at the time – simply outclassed and overpowered their great rivals. The highlight of the encounter was no doubt Marius Joubert’s hat-trick of tries; and he – along with Ray Mordt in 1981 – remain the only Boks to ever accomplish the feat against the Kiwis.

The empathic victory set the Boks up for a winner-takes-all clash against Australia a week later, after which the Boks lifted only their second championship in the then Tri-Nations. There were still many trials and tribulations ahead for White and his charges, but the belief that the Boks could and would win the 2007 Rugby Cup was arguably conceived here.

1 1995: June 24

Attendance: 65 000

South Africa 15

Penalties: J Stramsky; Drop Goals: Stransky (2)

New Zealand 12

Penalties: A Mehrtens (3); Drop Goals: Mehrtens

Arguably one of the most iconic moments, not only in rugby, but in world sport occurred in this match when Nelson Mandela handed the Webb Ellis trophy to Bok captain Francois Pienaar, much to the elevation of the rumbacous crowd within the stadium and an overjoyed nation without.

Where there were ugly scenes in the 1992 encounter, there was a total 360 here – the fans chanting Madiba’s name during the pre-match build-up, and singing awkwardly but with passion through the National Anthem of South Africa.

It was a titanic tussle between the two nations over 100 minutes of intense rugby, and while every player within the team are considered legends, the boot of Joel Stransky will be forever immortalised after he slotted the winning drop goal in extra-time to secure the victory and the world cup.

This victory truly transcended sport, creating a sense of unity and pride within South Africa. Although the road to that prosperity has faltered many times in subsequent years, the 1995 triumph is one focal point that the nation can look back fondly at with pride and a sense of hope.


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