New Zealand 23-13 South Africa: All Blacks lay down World Cup marker
Last Updated: 21/09/19 2:49pm
Defending champions New Zealand beat South Africa 23-13 in their much-anticipated Pool B match in Yokohama.
With Italy, Namibia and Canada also in Pool B, both rugby heavyweights should make it through to the quarter-finals but the win gives New Zealand the mental edge - especially if they do meet again in the final.
The Springboks' stifling defence kept the All Blacks in check until the second quarter, before New Zealand struck twice through George Bridge and Scott Barrett, with Richie Mo'unga adding both conversion and a penalty.
The All Blacks looked rampant going into the break 17-3 up, but South Africa hit back early in the second half when Pieter-Steph Du Toit went over unopposed with the conversion making it 17-10.
A drop-goal from Handre Pollard made it a four-point game going into the final quarter but two penalties - one from Mo'unga and one from Beauden Barrett - gave New Zealand the win.
South Africa started strongly, however after soaking up early pressure, New Zealand punished South Africa - a penalty and two superb tries all within five minutes left the Springboks stunned.
Both tries came from mistakes from South Africa. The first after No 8 Duane Vermeulen could not hold onto the ball and a clever kick from Mo'unga found Sevu Reece who broke clear. Ardie Savea showed his pace before Beauden Barrett straightened the line and sent winger Bridge over.
Three minutes later they had their second - this time Pollard could not hold onto a high ball and Anton Lienert-Brown sliced through the defence with lock Scott Barrett running in under the posts.
New Zealand looked to cut loose but South Africa's desperate defence clung on to keep the score 17-3 at the break.
The Springboks needed something special to get back in the game and Cheslin Kolbe almost delivered with a scintillating run down the wing. He may not have scored, but the territory he won gave South Africa the platform for their first try. Malcolm Marx and Eben Etzebeth carried well before Du Toit blasted through the ruck and went over with the All Blacks defence at sixes and sevens.
The Springboks should have got their second after De Klerk ran a super line of a Pollard inside pass, however New Zealand did not panic and were happy to counter from their line after a good turnover.
Pollard stepped up with a massive drop-goal to make it 13-17 but South Africa were guilty of indiscipline chasing the game. Mo'unga and Barrett made them pay with two penalties and despite one last explosive run from Kolbe, the All Blacks held on and started their quest for a third successive World Cup triumph with a win over their greatest foe.