South Africa's fullback Damian Willemse (C) is tackled by New Zealand's wing Caleb Clarke (bottom) and New Zealand's hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho (3rd L) during the Rugby Championship international rugby match between South Africa and New Zealand at the Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela on August 6, 2022.
MBOMBELA - South Africa beat New Zealand 26-10 on Saturday in the Rugby Championship opener in Mbombela, adding to the woes of the embattled All Blacks.
New Zealand flew to South Africa having lost four of their previous five matches amid calls for coach Ian Foster and captain Sam Cane to be sacked.
The ferocity of the Springboks constantly unsettled the All Blacks, who were lucky to trail only 10-3 at half-time having been outplayed in the opening 40 minutes.
New Zealand did win more possession in the second half but basic errors cost them and their only try, from replacement loose forward Shannon Frizell, arrived when South Africa were reduced to 14 men.
Wing Kurt-Lee Arendse, scorer of the first South African try, was red-carded on 75 minutes after fouling airborne fly-half Beauden Barrett.
Hooker Malcolm Marx was warmly greeted by the sell-out 40,000 crowd in recognition of him winning his 50th cap when he ran on to the field ahead of his teammates in the northeastern city.
There was a dramatic start to the opening match of the southern hemisphere championship with Springboks scrum-half Faf de Klerk knocked out after his head struck the knee of All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke.
De Klerk had to be stretchered off, but received lengthy applause when he appeared on the sideline midway through the opening half having failed a head injury assessment test.
Inexperienced Jaden Hendrikse, who debuted in a home series against Wales last month, replaced De Klerk just 43 seconds into the match.
- Arendse scores -
Fired-up South Africa dominated early possession and territory and went ahead on eight minutes when Arendse scored his first try for the world champions in only his second appearance.
The New Zealand defence failed to grasp a lofted kick from fly-half Handre Pollard and centre Lukhanyo Am fed Arendse, who raced over the tryline.
Unpredictable goal-kicker Pollard did well to convert from the touchline and increased the lead to 10 points on 22 minutes by slotting a close-range penalty between the posts.
There was a sudden change of momentum as half-time approached with New Zealand, helped by a steadier scrum, awarded four penalties in quick succession.
Full-back Jordie Barrett, one of three brothers in the All Blacks starting line-up, converted one of the penalties on 36 minutes to narrow the gap to seven points and it remained 10-3 until half-time.
In the build-up to the match, Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber had emphasised the need to translate dominance into points and will have been disappointed that his team were only seven points in front.
He would have been thrilled with the performance of Marx, though, as the Japan-based front-rower won several turnovers and figured constantly in assaults on the All Blacks.
In the second half, Pollard kicked two penalties and a drop goal to give the home team a 19-3 lead before both teams scored late tries.
Frizell dived over in the corner and fellow substitute Richie Mo'unga converted, then replacement back Willie le Roux scored beside the post and Pollard converted for a personal tally of 16 points.