Boks outplayed by the All Blacks

New Zealand on Saturday probably put paid to South Africa’s chances of winning the Tri-Nations crown when they comprehensively beat the world champions 19-0 at a packed Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.

The All Blacks scored three tries against a side that were just not clinical enough, and the Boks were completely outplayed at the breakdown.

The win means that South Africa can get a maximum of only 15 log points should they beat the Wallabies with two full-houses over the next two Saturdays. The All Blacks now have 14 log points and Australia nine from just three matches.

For South Africa to win the Tri-Nations, they have to get those 10 points from the two Wallaby matches and hope the All Blacks are beaten at home by Australia.

Percy Montgomery on Saturday became the first South African to play in 100 Tests, and ran out before the team to a packed Newlands Stadium.

However, his big day was a rather average one. His weakness under the high ball over the years manifested itself twice. He missed two easy penalties, kicked out on the full and obviously lacked the pace although he did some good things on attack. He was replaced after 18 minutes of the second half.

The Springboks started the match in the worst possible way with Butch James putting the kick-off into touch on the full. Then Fourie du Preez kicked the ball dead, and the Boks put themselves under pressure when they were caught behind their own try line.

It was a tight affair with some hard hits, but poor options and uncertain handling from the Boks in particular made it memorable only for its must-win nature. The match was probably in the bag when All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter, who missed four of his six kicks at goal, scored under the posts and converted to put his side 12-0 up with 15 minutes remaining.

They added their third try through replacement hooker Keven Mealamu who intercepted a wild pass from Jean de Villiers in the Boks’ quarter for another seven-pointer.

In the first half the All Blacks, with captain Richie McCaw everywhere and absolutely brilliant, turned over possession at the breakdown almost at will, and the Boks brought more pressure on themselves in this facet by being penalised too often — mainly because of the greater numbers of the All Blacks at the breakdown.

It was also McCaw — with a neat kick behind the South African backs after a near-botched pass by Ma’a Nonu — who set up the All Blacks’ first try in the seventh minute when Conrad Smith beat Butch James to the touchdown.

However, the two lasting impressions of the first 40 minutes was All Black flyhalf Carter almost unbelievably missing four out of four relatively easy kicks at goal, which could have given his side an unassailable lead, and the Boks squandering opportunities with poor options.

First Bismarck du Plessis, with four unmarked players on his outside, opted to go it alone; then Tendai Mtwarira twice had good runs but smothered his outside support.

The Springboks, although they had less of the territory before the break, more often looked dangerous than the visitors when on the attack but were just not clinical enough.

The fact that the All Blacks scored only once in the first half could to a large degree be put down to the ferocious and well-organised defence of the Springboks.

The better discipline and, let it be said, territorial and possession dominance of New Zealand meant that South Africa only got their first shot at the posts five minutes into the second half. Montgomery missed the sitter.

A minute later ”Bad Brad” Thorn used his elbow to obstruct Du Preez and again Montgomery missed from just 35m out and right in front.

The Boks couldn’t capitalise on a 5m scrum and yet another turnover brought relief to the All Blacks.

Thereafter it was the same old story of All Black possession from the breakdowns with their back line, seldom dangerous but clinical and denying turnovers, trying to create the opening.

That came with Carter’s try and put enough pressure on the Boks to run everything thereafter. De Villiers’s mistake was the result. — Sapa

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