All Blacks win battle, lose Carter

Getty Images     15 Sep 2013     Getty Images

The All Blacks' bonus point 29-15 win ensured they climbed to first place on the championship ladder, four points ahead of the second-placed Springboks.

But controversy will likely to reign over this match. It usually does after four yellow cards are awarded.

The sight of Carter hobbling off after what French referee Romain Poite deemed to be a shoulder charge had 47,362 fans baying for blood as Bismark du Plessis headed for the sin bin.

While replays of the incident supported claims of a fair tackle, another act of 'dangerous play' by the Boks hooker was reviewed by TMO George Ayoub, whose assistance prompted a second yellow and an automatic red card.

Down to 14 men for the remaining 39 minutes of the match, it was hard not to feel a little sympathy for the Springboks, who will remain winless in Auckland since 1937.

In some ways, the playing field was evened out when stand-in captain Kieran Read and Ma'a Nonu were sin-binned in quick succession reducing the All Blacks to 13 men for the last seven minutes.

While Liam Messam was able to recover from the blow he took from Du Plessis' elbow, Steve Hansen will sweat over the fitness of fullback Israel Dagg, who was replaced by Charles Piutau at half-time after his knee clashed with winger Bryan Habana.

Without skipper Richie McCaw, the onus was on Read to lead his new-look forward pack from the front and he did just that by slapping the ball down from a maul in just the fourth minute.

That subdued the Springbok pack, which was fizzing after a moral victory at the first scrum where All Blacks hard man Owen Franks, in his 50th Test, was forced to stand upright.

Emotions were running even higher when Carter failed to rise from the Eden Park turf.
The ensuing scuffle that involved almost every player on the field seemed to spark something in the All Blacks.

The increased in energy was personified by replacement Beauden Barrett, whose scintillating burst through the line to take the All Blacks inside the attacking 22.

Scanning across to the left, Conrad Smith found a chink the defence that allowed him to set lock Brodie Retallick away to score under the posts.

Heyneke Meyer said after breaking South Africa's Brisbane hoodoo that he regretted not using the rolling maul more frequently.

He got his wish when Du Plessiss dotted down from a maul after a kickable penalty was turned down.

Hansen would have done well to calm his troops over some half-time oranges. During the break it was decided that Dagg was unable to continue.

Looking to cut their seven-point deficit, South African shoulders dropped when Du Plessiss was called out for leading with his elbow into the tackle of Messam.

His second yellow meant he was the second Springbok to be sent off sent off in a Test against the All Blacks since Andre Venter.

That blow was compounded by Read's second five-pointer under the posts.

The stand-in skipper came close to notching an impressive hat-trick before his hands failed him when he attempted to ground Julian Savea's grubber.

By then the South Africans were firmly on the back foot and Cane muscled his way across the line for a well-deserved try in the final quarter.

Replacement Patrick Lambie crossed in the left corner to give the visitors' score card some respectability.

In the end the visitors will be after more than respectability when Ellis Park hosts the All Blacks for the first time since 2004 on October 6 (NZT) in what promises to be another physical encounter.

All Blacks 29 (Kieran Read 2, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane tries; Beauden Barrett 2 con, pen, Dan Carter con) South Africa 15 (Bismarck du Plessis, Patrick Lambie tries; Morne Steyn con, pen) HT: 14-10.