Springboks edge All Blacks 31-29 with last-minute penalty

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — This week it was the Springboks who won with a last-minute penalty goal in a Rugby Championship test against the All Blacks.

South Africa edged New Zealand 31-29 in a test featuring four lead changes in the last 10 minutes, with Elton Jantjies kicking the winning penalty after the full-time siren sounded on Saturday night.

Last weekend the New Zealanders won by two points to clinch the title, with a game to spare, in the 100th test between the two nations when Jordie Barrett landed a late penalty.

Barrett again put the All Blacks ahead with a minute to go but this time the World Cup champion South Africans had time to respond before a mostly New Zealand crowd of just over 20,000, a capacity under COVID-19 restrictions for Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The All Blacks led 20-14 at the break after a half of attacking rugby that contrasted starkly with last weekend's tactical, kicking contest that the New Zealanders narrowly clinched 19-17.

The Springboks opened the scoring in the sixth minute, swooping when the All Blacks lost possession while trying to counter from deep.

Lukhanyo Am threw a behind-the-back flick pass to find support before his midfield partner Damian de Allende crossed in the right corner.

After an exchange of penalties, the All Blacks made it 8-8 when Reece Sevu scored the first of New Zealand's three first-half tries following a knock-on from from the kick restart.

Flyhalf Beauden Barrett kicked deep right for a flying Reece, who reached over to score as he was being tackled into the corner.

The Springboks narrowly missed in the 19th when hooker Bongi Mbonambi lost control of the ball as he tried to reach over the tryline after a burrowing run but eventually went ahead with a penalty goal in the 24th.

The All Blacks responded quickly, with flanker Ardie Savea diving to finish off after Beauden Barrett stepped into a gap in the midfield before unloading to Rieko Ioane, who broke tackles before unloading the the final pass.

Another try went astray when center Anton Lienert-Brown was tackled into touch two meters out after Jordie Barrett launched a counter-attack before throwing a looping cut-out pass to the left flank.

But the New Zealanders made up for it a minute later, making the score 20-11 when scrumhalf Brad Weber scored from close range after grabbing the rebound when Scott Barrett won a lineout against the throw.

Penalties from Handre Pollard just before and after halftime reduced the margin to 20-17 before the Springboks hit the front in the 52nd when winger Makazole Mapimpi beat the cover defense to score in the corner and capitalize on some sustained attacking pressure from his team.

Pollard added another penalty to make it 25-20 and Jordie Barrett responded with two goals to make it 26-25 with just over five minutes remaining.

Jantjies slotted a dropped goal to give the Springboks the lead 28-26 in the 77th and Barrett regained the lead in the 79th after with another penalty goal to make it 29-28.

It wasn't over, yet.

The siren sounded just after South Africa was awarded a penalty 60 meters out and the Springboks took the option of kicking for touch to get a lineout on New Zealand's 22-meter line.

Pressure paid, with the New Zealanders penalized for an off-side infringement and Jantjies calmly taking the points.

The New Zealanders won the title with five wins and one loss. Australia beat Argentina 32-17 earlier Saturday to secure second spot with four wins, and South Africa finished third with three wins and three losses. Argentina finished 0-6 after a long, tumultuous tour.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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