NELSPRUIT, South Africa (Reuters) -Wing Kurt-Lee Arendse scored his first international try and was then red carded as South Africa piled more misery on struggling New Zealand with a comfortable 26-10 victory in their Rugby Championship opener at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
The Springboks were more dominant than the scoreline suggests as they bossed the set-piece and breakdown, with hooker Malcolm Marx particularly devastating in the latter in his 50th test.
Replacement back Willie le Roux also crossed for a try and flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked 17 points for the home side, who recorded their biggest win over the All Blacks since 1928 despite finishing the game with 14 players after Arendse was sent-off for a dangerous tackle in the air on 75 minutes.
New Zealand managed a late try through flanker Shannon Frizell, but it is a fifth defeat in their last six tests that will pile more pressure on head coach Ian Foster, especially with the manner of a loss in a game they never looked like winning.
"The Springboks threw a hell of a lot at us, we did quite well to absorb it but it took a lot out of us. They kept applying pressure, especially at the breakdown and that disrupted a lot of our flow," All Blacks captain Sam Cane said.
"We’re bitterly disappointed, it really hurts. We must get better at the breakdown and the contestables (in the air). I can’t ask any more of the team in terms of the belief and the effort. It is just small margins at this level."
New Zealand made too many unforced errors with stray passes and knock-ons from carries and will have to show a vast improvement ahead of the second Rugby Championship match-up between the two sides at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Aug. 13.
The Boks crossed for the first try on eight minutes as Pollard kicked a high ball that was not collected by All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett and Lukanya Am sent Arendse away to dot down in the corner.
New Zealand got their first points in the 36th minute with their first scoring opportunity as Jordie Barrett landed a penalty from in front, and will have been somewhat relieved to go into the break only 10-3 down.
Pollard landed two more penalties and a drop-goal, but Arendse’s red card with five minutes remaining gave the visitors a chance.
They scored a try after a superb break from wing Caleb Clarke, playing his first test in two years, was finished by Frizell.
But the Boks had the last say as Le Roux crossed for an easy score after another loose All Blacks pass in their own 22 provided him the opportunity.
"It was a grind, exactly what we wanted. We wanted to match them up front," Bok captain Siya Kolisi said. "We were good with the high balls, we kept it as structured as possible and we had the discipline to make the tackles.
"Malcolm was brilliant, every time there was a ruck he seemed to come up with the ball. He has been a big player for Springbok rugby for some time."
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)