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12 Sep 2009 11:30
Long-range strikes from Frans Steyn and an intercept try by Jean de Villiers helped South Africa to get a 32-29 victory over New Zealand on Saturday and win their first Tri-Nations title since 2004.
South Africa, who had needed only one point to win the title, have 21 points. The All Blacks (nine) meet Australia (seven) in the final match in Wellington next week when the loser will get the wooden spoon.
Steyn slotted three penalties from inside his own territory for the Springboks, who took advantage of countless All Blacks’ errors at a sold-out Waikato Stadium.
Time and again the All Blacks dropped the ball from high kicks, or made line breaks and then knocked the ball forward to release any pressure they had been building up.
The All Blacks opened the scoring in the first minute when Daniel Carter got his first penalty after a Springboks’ indiscretion straight from the opening kick-off.
Fullback Steyn emphatically warned the All Blacks of the dangers of testing referee Nigel Owens’s rule interpretations when he converted the first of his three first-half, long-range penalties from 60 metres.
He added further strikes from 57m and 55m, while flyhalf Morne Steyn got a 35m dropgoal and converted Fourie du Preez’s first-half try that came from a series of All Blacks’ mistakes following a dropped high kick.
Morne Steyn added a short-range penalty when Kieran Read was penalised for a shoulder charge on Bryan Habana before Carter took his fourth penalty shortly before the break.
Carter turned villain in the 49th minute when he passed the ball directly to inside centre De Villiers who cantered away from 45m out.
Morne Steyn added the conversion to give the visitors a 29-12 lead.
All Blacks’ replacement centre Isaia Toeava made a break shortly after coming on and fed Sitiveni Sivivatu who crashed over in the tackle of Schalk Burger.
Carter added the conversion and then a penalty with 15 minutes remaining, before Morne Steyn pushed the margin back to 10 points with his second penalty.
The All Blacks threw everything at the Springboks in the final five minutes with Richie McCaw catching a cross kick from Carter and scoring in the corner.
Carter repeated the cross-kick tactic after the hooter had gone, though the ball drifted just over lock Isaac Ross’s outstretched hands and into touch, ending the All Blacks’ four-year stranglehold on the title. - Reuters
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