Rugby World Cup: All Blacks fire warning shot with Rugby Championship demolition of South Africa

The All Blacks have fired a Rugby World Cup warning in their second test of the year, dispatching South Africa 35-20 to take control of the Rugby Championship.

Winless against the Springboks on home soil since 2017, coach Ian Foster's men made amends from the first whistle, attacking with power and pace that the reigning world champions could not match.

In front of a crowd that could have easily passed for a Springboks home test at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, New Zealand put in their second impressive display in as many weeks, keeping their rivals at arm's length in a professional display.

Aaron Smith scores against South Africa.
Aaron Smith scores against South Africa. Photo credit: Photosport

Returning to the test line-up for the first time this year, Will Jordan stood tall in a masterful attacking display from the right wing, while Shannon Frizell all but cemented himself as the All Blacks' go-to in the No.6 jersey for the foreseeable future.

South Africa perhaps paid the price for sending an advance party to New Zealand earlier this month, as their first string lacked cohesion to start proceedings, before clicking into gear.

As they did against Argentina last week, the All Blacks came flying out of the blocks, sparked by Jordan, making his first start since last year's Rugby Championship, after battling an inner-ear issue.

After an initial break into South Africa's half, he sparked the All Blacks' first try, evading defenders on the right wing, drawing the last man and sending Aaron Smith in to score the opener under the posts.

An offside penalty against Springboks prop Steven Kitshoff gave the All Blacks the chance to add to their score in the first half and Richie Mo'unga obliged to put the hosts 10-0 up inside the first 10 minutes.

Jordan had a hand in the All Blacks' second try, this time scored on the left, as a cutout pass allowed Codie Taylor to send Shannon Frizell in, bumping off Springboks fullback Willie le Roux in the process.

South Africa took 25 minutes to genuinely challenge the All Blacks tryline and came closest, when Cheslin Kolbe appeared to have latched onto a mistake by Beauden Barrett - but the Springboks winger knocked on trying to ground the ball.

Unable to breach the defence with ball in hand, the visitors were forced to kick for points, as Faf de Klerk - in the absence of a genuine goalkicker - finally got them on the board with a penalty near the end of the first half. 

Mo'unga answered de Klerk with another penalty of his own, as the All Blacks held off one final charge from South Africa's forwards to lead 20-3 at the break.

At the interval, the All Blacks lost captain Sam Cane to injury after a neckroll tackle by opposite Eben Etzebeth, while South Africa went to their bench early in the second-half.

South Africa's reserves yielded results, when replacement hooker Malcolm Marx crashed over from a lineout drive to finally score his side's first try, as the hour mark beckoned.

A penalty just inside the half, again to Mo'unga, extended the All Blacks lead to 23-10, but Kolbe struck for the Springboks, as a brilliant cutout pass from le Roux put the winger away, despite pleas from the crowd for a forward pass.

With Kolbe unable to convert his own try, the All Blacks lead was cut to 23-15, as the final quarter approached.

After threatening South Africa's line more than once, Jordan finally had the try he deserved, as a Beauden Barrett kick to the corner saw the winger keep his composure, juggling to score for a 30-15 lead after the successful conversion.

In the final minutes, Mo'unga capped his evening with a try to keep the challenge of Damian McKenzie for the No.10 jersey at bay, with the only blemish on his 80 minutes being unable to convert his own try.

Will Jordan in action against South Africa
Will Jordan in action against South Africa. Photo credit: Photosport

Kwagga Smith crossed over in the final minutes, but it was little more than a consolation effort for an outplayed Springboks outfit.

The two sides will both enjoy a week's rest in the Rugby Championship schedule, before the All Blacks head across the Tasman to face the Wallabies at Melbourne, while South Africa return home to host Argentina in a truncated competition. 

In a year when these two fierce rivals could face each other in a World Cup quarter-final, Foster and the All Blacks will be content at landing the first blow.

All Blacks 35 (A.Smith, Frizell, Jordan & Mo'unga tries; Mo'unga 3 conversions & 3 penalties) South Africa 20 (Marx, Kolbe & K.Smith tries; Kolbe conversion; De Klerk penalty)