South Africa shrug shoulders and move on after Du Plessis sees red in 29-15 loss to New Zealand.

Kieran Read, centre, of the All Blacks offloads in the tackle of JJ Engelbrecht of the Springboks during a Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and South Africa on Saturday. Read finished with two tries and the All Blacks went on to win, 29-15. Phil Walter / Getty Images
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New Zealand 29 South Africa 15

New Zealand Tries: Read 3’ 45’, Retallick 21’, Cane 67’, Cons: Carter 4’, Barrett 22’ 46’; Pens: Barrett 34’

South Africa Tries: B du Plessis 31’, Lambie 75’; Cons: Steyn 32’; Pens: Steyn 9’

Man of the match Brodie Retallick (New Zealand)

AUCKLAND // South Africa refused to get drawn into any discussion about referee Romain Poite’s decisions to give hooker Bismarck du Plessis two yellow cards and reduce them to 14 men for 50 minutes of their 29-15 loss to New Zealand in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The bonus-point victory for New Zealand moved them to 18 points and the lead in the Rugby Championship ahead of the Springboks who remained on 14.

Du Plessis was given his first yellow card about 15 minutes into the first half for a tackle that Poite described as late and without arms on New Zealand fly-half Daniel Carter.

It forced Carter off the field with an injury to his AC joint in his right shoulder and sparked an all-in melee with both sides involved in wrestling and shoving each other.

The abrasive Sharks hooker, who returned to the field and scored his side’s first try in the 31st minute, received a second yellow card, and automatic red, for an elbow to the throat of Liam Messam in the first minute of the second half.

“We don’t have any excuses. I thought the better team won on the day. That’s why they’re world champs,” said Heyneke Meyer, the Springboks coach.

“But you’re not going to play 14 men against the best team in the world and take them on. You can’t scrum, you can’t drive in the line-out and it effects your defence as well.

“I don’t want to use that as an excuse. They played well. We’ll take it on the chin and move on.”

Meyer’s reluctance to get dragged into a debate that is likely to rage back in South Africa was echoed by his captain Jean de Villiers, who simply said he would not comment on the incidents.

De Villiers felt his side had not executed well and had been outplayed by the All Blacks. The intensity of the match and momentum shift towards South Africa in the final 10 minutes of the first half, suggested Du Plessis’s dismissal had been a significant factor in the outcome.

Television replays suggested the first yellow card for the tackle on Carter was unjustified and De Villiers indicated he had felt the hooker had made a legal tackle.

“Bismarck is a physical player. He is a very good tackler and I think he executes his tackles very well,” De Villiers said.

“So he was disappointed that he only played 30 minutes of this game. We’re all disappointed, we’re disappointed with the result and that hurts.”

The All Blacks expressed a degree of sympathy for Du Plessis.

The first yellow card – for the Carter tackle – was “unlucky”, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said after the bruising encounter.

The unbeaten All Blacks were also guilty of yellow cards to Kieran Read and Ma’a Nonu, but Hansen said he had no complaints about the refereeing.

“In an intense battle like that you’re going to get moments and the referee makes decisions and he’s got to make them in that moment,” Hansen said.

“Perhaps Bismarck may have been unlucky on Dan’s yellow card but he [referee Poite] probably got the other one’s right.

“We’ve got no complaints. That’s rugby and we’ve just got to get on with it and have a look at our discipline going forward.”