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Tri Nations Rugby: Boks Bash All Blacks
South Africa triumph in New Zealand's House of Pain for the first time
Nicolas van der Leek (Nick)     Print Article 
Published 2008-07-13 08:43 (KST)   
In his book, In Black and White, retired Springbok coach Jake White describes not winning in New Zealand as his greatest regret. The world champions have come close in New Zealand before. In 2005 the Blacks edged out the Boks 31-27 in the same venue -- known as the House of Pain -- at Dunedin. Two years earlier it was 19-11. In all, 10 years have passed since the Springboks last won on New Zealand soil. On many occasions the All Blacks have robbed South Africa of victory in the last seconds of games.

The game on Saturday was starting to look like another case of bad luck when the Springbok captain was sin-binned in the last 10 minutes for a high tackle (despite a similar earlier infringement on Bryan Habanna that apparently went unnoticed). Questionable refereeing and an erratic wind appeared to doom Springbok efforts once again. In the end, champions must make their own luck, and that is exactly what happened.

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Ricky Januarie slipped unexpectedly out of the All Blacks iron grasp of the game, chipped over the full backs head and had the ball bounce neatly into his hands before diving over the try line. Frans Steyn converted, giving the Springboks a deserved 30-28 victory (2 South Africa tries to 1 from New Zealand), their first ever in Dunedin's Carisbrook since their first match there in 1921.

How the Game Unfolded

The Springboks felt they had something to prove after their encounter last week against the All Blacks, losing 19-8 in miserably wet Wellington, and losing their world No. 1 ranking to the Kiwis.

The intensity and physicality from both sides was there as anticipated, but the refereeing by Australian Matt Goddard was poor. By the 24th minute, eight penalties had been awarded, averaging at one every three minutes. At this stage the All Blacks had their noses ahead at 12-9.

The Springbok right winger J. P. Pietersen made the breakthrough try in the 32nd minute. The conversion was missed by veteran Percy Montgomery. In the 35th, Dan Carter attempted and missed a drop goal -- never easy in blustery conditions. His Springbok counterpart showed him to do it about a minute later; Butch James slotted it. Once again the referee was caught napping and needed a television adjudicator to confirm that the kick had gone through the center of the posts. One more penalty at half time brought the score to 17-15 to the Springboks.

Second Half Nail Biter

The handling errors of the Springboks looked to be their undoing, but the All Blacks were suffering an experience mismatch in their locks compared to the Springboks. The Boks were, overall, a much tougher and tighter squad than in the previous week. The score confirmed this, but so did their scrummaging and lineouts. Of concern was the kicking away of possession, gifting danger man Dan Carter with many vital opportunities.

In the 46h minute the All Blacks had a great chance to score, following nine phases of the ball. They failed to capitalize, and South Africa coach Pieter De Villiers sends on Old Grey strongman, the young goliath, Frans Steyn. The Boks do some brilliant rucking to gain territorial advantage.

After a shocking Springbok pass to no one on the left wing in the 52nd minute, it started to seem as though the Boks were going to rain on their own parade. Sione Lauaki, having just appeared on the field, scored to bring the tally to 22-17. At this point it felt like a rerun of Wellington, where the Boks went from being in contention to failing utterly to score again in the second half. In the 61st minute, this trend seemed to be confirmed when a Montgomery kicked was plucked off its course by a gust.

In the next minute Butch James got a penalty over, narrowing the gap to 22-20. Shortly afterward, Dan Carter slotted a super smooth low flying drop goal, pulling his team to a five-point lead. It was the moment of truth. The Springboks would need a try to wipe out the deficit, and more, to win.

A penalty in the 67th minute brought the Boks to within sniffing distance, at 25-23.
In the 68th minute the All Blacks were denied a try in the last meter of the field. At this point the game was on a knife's edge. And then massive Victor Matfield was sin-binned, meaning the vital final eight minutes against the All Blacks would have to be fought with just 14 men, and without their captain. Carter boots the penalty: 28-23. Once again, the Boks knew they needed a try, and it was now or never.

It came down to a brilliant move by Ricky Januarie. His quickness and the lucky bounce gave the Boks another five points, and Frans Steyn converted in tough atmospheric conditions. 30-28. Carter attempted another drop goal but missed, and in the nail biting final seconds, Carter was poised for another attempt. This one was charged down by the rampaging Boks.

The Springboks now go to Australia, brimming with confidence after this well deserved, hard fought win. Will the world champions go on to win the Tri Nations?
For more on the writer visit www.nickvanderleek.com.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nicolas van der Leek

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