Sunday, 24 June 2007

All Blacks Beat Springboks In Durban

The Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks are proving to be the sides to beat this season. With the Rugby World Cup just months away, the rest of the world does not appear to have anything that can match these two sides, even if injuries weaken them.

The aging Wallabies are always in with a chance and will punish any complacency. There is so much depth in the All Blacks squad and the youthful Springbok side can only improve with each match.

This time I think they lost 21-26, mainly through inexperience and I do not think the All Blacks can ever take them for granted. The Boks have also a set of veterans like, Bobby Skinstad, Percy Montgomery, Os du Randt, and Bakkies Botha who should stabilize the squad. The following is the match report from the All Blacks website:

All Blacks fitness sets up win

An outstanding last 15 minutes carried the All Blacks to a 26-21 victory over South Africa in the Philips Tri Nations Test at Durban.

(Dan Carter stepping up) Down 12-21, the All Blacks responded with two superb tries, the first to captain and flanker Richie McCaw and the second to wing Joe Rokocoko, a reward for tenacity, and superior fitness.

With South Africa playing an effective game of patience, the All Blacks committed many uncharacteristic unforced errors but a decision to up the pace proved its worth as the Springboks struggled to handle the tempo.

The expected lineout disadvantage did not materialise and the All Blacks scrum was a vastly superior unit.

But it was the determination of the loose forwards that set up the recovery. No.8 Rodney So'oialo proved the spark with a magnificent run out of the All Blacks 22 that saw him race into the Springboks half. He passed to the fast following flanker Jerry Collins and from that point it was a case of All Blacks rampant.

The ball moved to the left corner and as the ball popped out of the back of a ruck it was a low-flying Richie McCaw who scooped up the ball and drove over for a 68th minute try.

(South Africa Flag)

Three minutes later, Rokocoko ran the ball out of the All Blacks 22m, linked with replacement fullback Leon MacDonald who kicked downfield. The ball was blocked but it arrived for Rokocoko to race away to score the match winner.

Throughout the first 68 minutes New Zealand didn't lack for opportunities but uncharacteristic handling problems, spread across the team, and disappointing ball security several times eased pressure on the South Africans.

South Africa opened the scoring when lock Troy Flavell was penalised at a ruck on the All Blacks line and fullback Percy Montgomery landed the goal. Halfback Ruan Pienaar extended the lead after 19 minutes when fullback Mils Muliaina didn't release the ball in a tackle 52m out from the line.

First five-eighths Dan Carter rewarded some better All Blacks build-up work by landing his first penalty goal after 29 minutes.

New Zealand, after some initial hesitancy and fumbled ball began to assert greater control with superior passing and driving especially among the forwards.

But again, 33 minutes into the half, the Springboks held onto the ball too long in the tackle and Carter had a chance but missed his third attempt.

Three minutes he was more successful from the right hand side of the field when lock Bakkies Botha was penalised at the ruck and the scorers were leveled.

The All Blacks looked to break out from their half in the last moments of the spell, but the ball was turned over and with a kick to the corner and a lineout, it was the South Africans who mauled their way to the line for flanker Schalk Burger to score for an 11-6 halftime lead.

The All Blacks immediately trimmed the lead after the re-start when second five-eighths Aaron Mauger calmed dropped a goal.

However, Mauger, two minutes later made a bad mistake after some clever work when a quick lineout was taken. Tackled in midfield, he threw a pass when lying flat on his back.
But it was Butch James who intercepted the ball and raced 30m to score with Montgomery adding the conversion.

New Zealand lost one positive attacking scrum chance when referee Alain Rolland ruled the ball had not been carried back into goal and forced by Pienaar when television evidence clearly showed the infringement.

South Africa rang the replacements and two of them were immediately involved in New Zealand's next scoring chance. Francois Steyn came on at first five-eighths and dropped his first pass resulting in a five-metre scrum to the All Blacks.

Moments later, Pedrie Wannenburg, who had replaced Bobby Skinstad, was sin-binned for a ruck infringement which saw Carter land his third penalty goal after 55 minutes.

Montgomery kicked a 66th minute penalty goal, but that merely served to inspire the All Blacks to greater heights as their fitness undid the home side.

New Zealand 26 (Richie McCaw, Joe Rokocoko tries; Dan Carter 2 con, 3 pen; Aaron Mauger dropped goal)
South Africa 21 (Schalk Burger, Butch James tries; Percy Montgomery con, 2pen; Ruan Pienaar pen).

HT: 6-11

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