Soweto - New Zealand clinched the Tri-Nations
title on Saturday after captain Richie McCaw and substitute Israel Dagg
scored tries in the last two minutes to beat South Africa 29-22.
The match, the first major game of rugby to be played in Soweto, was
staged at the same venue that hosted last month's soccer World Cup
final. A record crowd of over 90 000 were in attendance.
Blacks trailed 22-17 as they launched wave after wave of attacks and
McCaw forced his way over in the left corner, the try only being awarded
after a lengthy review by the television match official Shaun Veldsman.
Flyhalf Dan Carter, who only succeeded with five of his nine kicks at
goal, hacked the touchline conversion wide to leave the scores at 22-22.
But the All Blacks then won the kick-off and powerful centre Ma'a Nonu
muscled his way through midfield before firing out a long pass for
replacement wing Dagg to run over the line unopposed, Carter kicking the
The visitors had played most of the rugby, dominating possession and constantly probing with their ball-in-hand approach.
But the Springboks produced a passionate defensive performance, were
far more accurate at the breakdowns and remained in front thanks to the
faultless goal-kicking of flyhalf Morne Steyn, who scored five penalties
and a conversion.
New Zealand now have 23 points and have won
the Tri-Nations for the 10th time in 15 years with a game to spare.
Defending champions South Africa have now lost four matches in a row.
The Springboks showed in the first half that they can still use the
type of rugby that led them to glory last year as they pulled away for a
16-9 lead after 31 minutes.
Rookie scrumhalf Francois
Hougaard's excellent kicking and fielding of returns from the All Blacks
set up two early penalties for Steyn after Carter had opened the
scoring for New Zealand in the fifth minute with a penalty.
22-year-old, making his first test start, also sparked several attacks
and earned another penalty in the 31st minute when wing Joe Rokocoko was
ruled to have taken him out off the ball as he chased his own
Juan Smith, who added tremendous steel to the
Springbok defence, stole a New Zealand lineout in the 24th minute,
leading to fellow flank Schalk Burger forcing his way over for the home
side's only try.
Carter punished ruck mistakes by centre Juan de
Jongh and lock Victor Matfield before the All Blacks tidied up loose
ball in their own half, recycled possession and engineered a large
overlap on the right.
Prop Tony Woodcock took the final pass and sauntered over for the try, allowing New Zealand to close to 14-16 at the break.
It was the Springboks who dominated the early exchanges in the second
half, Steyn kicking penalties in the 42nd and 61st minutes to extend the
lead to 22-14 in front of a delirious crowd but New Zealand's late
flourish saw them home.
It was an unfortunate ending for South African captain John Smit who was celebrating his 100th test appearance.Scorers:
South Africa - Try: Schalk Burger. Conversion: Morne Steyn. Penalties: Steyn (5).
New Zealand - Tries: Tony Woodcock, Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg. Conversion: Dan Carter. Penalties: Carter (4).
Springboks – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan
de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9
François Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5
Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit
(c), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19
Francois Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Butch James, 22 Wynand Olivier.
All Blacks – 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Cory Jane, 13
Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Jimmy
Cowan, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom
Donnelly, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 John Afoa, 18 Samuel Whitelock, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Israel Dagg.