Rugby Championship News

Heroic Springboks upset All Blacks in Tri-Nations





The score was identical to last weekend when title holders South Africa came from behind against Australia in Pretoria in the opening match of the annual southern hemisphere rugby union competition.

South Africa took a different route to glory against New Zealand, establishing an early 13-point advantage, turning over 16-13 ahead, and shading the second-half scoring by two penalties to one.

As the final whistle blew on a cold, clear afternoon in the south-west city, thousands of supporters poured on to the Newlands turf and mobbed their green and gold heroes after one of the finest Bok victories in recent years.

New Zealand had started favourites after crushing the British and Irish Lions 3-0 and been billed as one of the great rugby union teams of all time, but the space and time enjoyed in the three-Test series was never available against fired-up South Africa.

“What a game! We felt the presence of the crowd even in the warm-up and could not let them down. Heroic defending is becoming a trademark of this team and it was nice to see the hard work and commitment pay off,” said Springboks hooker and captain John Smit.

Coach Jake White said: “About 10 of our squad were competing at under-21 level just two years ago so I believe South African rugby is in a healthy state. This was a great victory against a great team.”

All Blacks flanker Richie McCaw said: “I’m bitterly disappointed and hurting. This match served as a reminder of the intensity of Tests between us and the Springboks. Winning is all about taking chances and we made mistakes.”

Highlights for the Springboks included the heroic defending of a team winning its third Test in as many weeks and snatching four line-outs against the throw which helped lock Bakkies Botha take the man of the match award.

The All Blacks lost concussed scrum-half Byron Kelleher early in the first half after a tackle from lock Victor Matfield and young fly-half Daniel Carter was never allowed to dominate as he had done against the Lions.

Fullback Percy Montgomery kicked four penalties from five attempts for the Springboks and converted an early intercept try by centre Jean de Villiers. A drop goal by fly-half Andre Pretorius completed the tally.

Carter had a 100 percent place kicking record, landing three penalties and converting a try by right wing Rico Gear, easily the most threatening figure of an All Blacks backline in which captain and centre Tana Umaga was strangely subdued.

South Africa were ahead within three minutes when Montgomery kicked a penalty in windy conditions and Pretorius dropped a goal before a Gear break ended disastrously with De Villiers intercepting a pass and racing away for a converted try.

A spell of All Blacks dominance followed and Carter kicked a penalty, converted a try in the corner by Gear and was successful with another penalty attempt to draw the teams level at 13 points each with 27 minutes gone.

After Montgomery missed a rushed penalty that was twice reset due to the wind, the fullback made no mistake from closer range to give the Boks a three-point half-time lead.

A couple of Montgomery penalties stretched the South African advantage to nine points while New Zealand took 23 minutes of the second half before scoring again as Carter landed an easy penalty kick.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry made four changes, but no one could find the key to unlock an inspired Bok defence and the home team finished deserved winners for only the third time in eight Tests at Newlands against the All Blacks.

The round-robin competition continues next Saturday in Sydney when Australia host New Zealand while the Springboks take a break ahead of a clash with the Wallabies on August 20 in Perth.

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