Springboks claim kicking advantage over All Blacks

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port24's chief writer Rob Houwing said Handre Pollard's 'superior assuredness and accuracy off the tee' in comparison to All Black Beauden Barrett and the added long range capability of utility back Frans Steyn could prove a game tilter.

"Just over a year ago, it would have been understandable for many observers – in either country – to scoff at the notion that place-kicking proficiency might be the pivotal factor in determining the scoreboard situation upon final whistle between these foes," he said.

"Up to that point, the All Blacks had gone through an extended period of very noticeable mastery over their time-honoured fierce rivals – to the extent that points achieved off the tee had desperately little relevance."

New Zealand had romped to try-laden victories especially in the two years preceding coach Rassie Erasmus taking the coaching reins in 2018.

But since then the sides have played three close Tests and the points amassed in those games stand at 82-82.

"In each of the two away fixtures for the Boks – both in Wellington, and now featuring a victory and a draw – flyhalf Pollard having the edge in goal-kicking efficiency over Barrett, the latter much more renowned for his wickedly fleet-footed artistry in open play, has been a major scoreboard influence," he said.

In Saturday's Test, Pollard kicked at 80 percent success while Barrett had 50 percent with two missed shots.

"In last season's much more high-scoring Cake Tin scrap, Pollard's altogether more clockwork kicking off the tee (five out of six, or 83.33 percent) was again a massive factor in the famous 36-34 outcome in Bok favour, as Barrett subsided to a flaky two from six (33.33 percent)," Houwing said.

Adding to the potency of Springbok kicking was Steyn's return to Test rugby.

"The now 32-year-old had landed some important, notably long-range goals in the Tri Nations-deciding encounter at Hamilton in 2009 (SA edged it 32-29) and he offers something no current All Blacks is especially renowned for: the ability to bang the ball over the crossbar from 55-60 metres or occasionally even more.

"The natural power off the tee hasn't diminished with the passage of time for the Montpellier-based customer.

"The assuring alliance of Pollard as established, first-choice kicker from closer ranges and Steyn as a possible game-breaker from extraordinary distance?

"It's a good one for South Africa to carry into RWC 2019, even if they will need all the other aspects of their battleplan to be highly polished as well," he said.


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