The All Blacks’ match-winning lineout move at Ellis Park explains why they remain a step ahead of the Springboks, according to former South African coach Nick Mallett.
Richie McCaw put the visitors ahead with a try from a well-rehearsed move in the dying minutes of their Rugby Championship Test on Saturday, won 27-20.
The All Blacks skipper scythed through a gaping hole in the Springboks defensive lineout after accepting a short and unexpected throw.
The move prompted adulation from Mallett who doubted the Springboks would be capable of such variation.
“It was brilliant. They are the most innovative team in the world,” Mallett told the Supersport website.
“We’ve never seen that and we didn’t know how to defend against it.
“Every game they come up with these fantastic new moves, it worked so well. They take seven points and win the game because of that courage.”
All Blacks No.8 Kieran Read was as animated as fellow loose forward McCaw crossed, revealing he was the architect of the move, having observed a “little opportunity” when scouting the South African lineout in Test week.
Its execution was similar to the try scored by prop Tony Woodcock, who crossed unopposed from a lineout when the All Blacks pipped France 8-7 in the 2011 World Cup final.
Coach Steve Hansen described the ploy as a variation of an old song but was mildly annoyed to have to bring it out earlier than this year’s World Cup, when it may have had greater surprise value.
“There wasn’t any problem with the move, I just wanted to keep it up our sleeves. I guess it was an occasion when you had to bring it down your sleeve, wasn’t it?”