South Africa beats New Zealand in Rugby Championship opener

South Africa and New Zealand players shake hands after South Africa's victory during the Rugby Championship international rugby match between South Africa and New Zealand at the Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela on August 6, 2022. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP)

South Africa defeated rivals New Zealand 26-10 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday to kick off their Rugby Championship campaign with a win.

South Africa scored two tries through Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux while Handre Pollard added 16 points from his boot via two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal. New Zealand responded with a converted try from Shannon Frizell and a Jordie Barrett penalty.

South Africa and New Zealand players shake hands after South Africa’s victory during the Rugby Championship international rugby match between South Africa and New Zealand at the Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela. /AFP

The reigning world champions suffered an early setback just a minute into the match when they lost scrum-half Faf de Klerk who sustained an injury when trying to tackle Caleb Clarke.

However, the Springboks took the lead n the ninth minute when Lukhanyo Am gathered a loose ball and offloaded it to Arendse who crossed over for his first test try. Pollard slotted the conversion and added a penalty midway trough the first half.

Barrett cut the deficit with a penalty after Damian de Allende was judged to be offside from an attacking scrum.

South Africa’s Willie le Roux (C) jumps to catch the ball during the Rugby Championship international rugby match between South Africa and New Zealand at the Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela. /AFP

Pollard restored the 10-point cushion kicking his second penalty in the 51st minute and then added another three-pointer with a 35-metre drop goal seven minutes later. Pollard put further daylight between the two teams with a third penalty in the 71st minute.

Arendse’s evening, however, ended prematurely after he received a red card, and was also stretchered off, after a horrific aerial challenge on Beauden Barrett late on.

Frizell managed to grab a consolation try for the visitors after some good work from Clarke, with Richie Mo’unga adding a conversion.

Despite being a man down, the Boks had the final say as le Roux crossed the whitewash to cap off a dominant performance and seal South Africa’s first home win over the All Blacks since 2014.

While South Africa reveled in a deserved win against their rivals, defeat adds even more pressure on All Blacks head coach Ian Foster whose team has now lost five of their last six Tests.

South Africa will host New Zealand again at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on August 13 in what will be the 103rd meeting between the sides.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)