Sunday, 17 June 2007

Boks and Wallabies Open Tri-Nations Campaign

As expected the Springboks scalped the Wallabies at Cape Town in the opening match of the 2007 Tri-Nations but it was only because of two brilliantly taken drop goals by new 20 year old star, Francois Steyn late in the game.

This is a good prelude to the Boks/All Blacks game at Durban, S.A. next Saturday. The Blacks had a good "practice" session by routing Canada, 64-13 in a game which saw star first five eights, Dan Carter running in 3 second half tries apart from 7 conversions.

The following report on the Boks/Wallabies game is from the All Blacks website:

Steyn denies Australia in last moments

Two dropped goals from 20-year-old Springboks rising star Francois Steyn (picture) denied the Wallabies an historic Tri-Nations victory, Australia falling 22-19 to South Africa in Cape Town.

The Wallabies led 19-16 with seven minutes to go before Steyn came off the bench to slot a fabulous 40-metre dropped goal from near the sideline in the 74th minute to level the scores at 19-all.

Three minutes later he calmly kicked the winning points from 25 metres out on the other side of the field to the delight of the sold-out Newlands stadium.

However, for most of the match, the Cape Town crowd sat in silence as the Wallabies made a mockery of pre-match predictions of a massacre to upstage the home side through determined and disciplined play.

The Wallabies led the Springboks 16-10 at half-time after an entertaining first 40 with both teams scoring a try each. An epic territorial battle developed in the second half with the Wallabies ahead 19-10 via two penalty goals to centre Stirling Mortlock.

Fullback Percy Montgomery kept the Boks in touch with two penalty goals before Steyn ensured himself instant hero status with two great strikes from his right boot.

Australia soaked up relentless pressure in the opening 10 minutes as South Africa took advantage of a mammoth 82 per cent possession to launch a raft of enterprising attacking raids. The Wallabies defence held firm and the only points on the scoreboard came via a penalty each to Montgomery and Mortlock.

But in the 15th minute, Springboks centre Jacque Fourie took advantage of confusion from a dropped ball in attack, to pin his ears back for the corner and the opening try of the match. Montgomery threaded an excellent conversion from the sideline for a 10-3 lead.

The Springboks threatened again when centre Jean de Villiers strolled through a yawning gap in the midfield, but good scrambling defence forced the attack wide and over the sideline.

The Wallabies eventually worked their way back into the contest through disciplined play, completing simple but effective pick and drives, and consolidating their field position by taking points every time they visited the Springboks 22.

Mortlock kicked another penalty after a high tackle on second five-eighths Matt Giteau by South African loose forward Juan Smith before Giteau went over for a try in the 31st minute.

The Wallabies showed patient build-up through nine phases move play to inside the home side's 22. Hooker Stephen Moore burst then through the middle of the ruck and Giteau was in support to dive over for a five-pointer. Mortlock added the extras to silence the Newlands sold-out crowd at 13-10.

Just two minutes later, Giteau almost scored again after another nicely worked new backline move that saw Giteau wrap around wide and put a grubber kick through for wing Lote Tuqiri and himself, with Boks wing JP Pietersen just beating the Aussie pair to the ball.

Five minutes before half-time, some crafty work from halfback George Gregan caught Boks No.8 Pierre Spies offside. The Wallabies earned another penalty right in front of the sticks and saw Spies yellow-carded for repeated infringements in the 'red' zone.

Mortlock kicked the penalty to give the Wallabies a 16-10 lead at the break.

The Wallabies skipper kicked another penalty to start the second half after hard-running Boks flanker Schalk Burger was penalised for not rolling away in the tackle 40m out from his own line.

Montgomery made it 19-13 just a few moments later when the Springboks earned a penalty inside kicking distance.

Spies' return from the sin-bin seemed to buoy the home side as they started to dominate possession and field position as they had done to open the match.

Once again the Wallabies showed dogged defence to deny the Springboks inside the 22, but put themselves under pressure a sequence of poor clearing kicks, often failing to find touch.

A penalty for a ruck infringement gave South Africa another penalty to make the score 19-16 before two breaks from inside their own 22 gave the Steyn his chance to win the match.

Montgomery made a break down the sideline to put the Boks on attack before Steyn's long-range bomb and De Villiers cut through the centres to take play downfield and on the path to the 77th minute match winner.

Springboks 22 (Jacque Fourie try; Percy Montgomery con, 3 pen; Francois Steyn 2 dropped goals)
Australia 19 (Matt Giteau try; Stirling Mortlock con, 3 pen).

HT: 10-16

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