New Zealand clinch Tri-Nations title

New Zealand clinched the Tri-Nations title on Saturday after captain Richie McCaw and substitute Israel Dagg scored tries in the last two minutes to beat South Africa 29-22.

The All Blacks trailed 22-17 as they launched wave after wave of attacks and McCaw forced his way over in the left corner, the try only being awarded after a lengthy review by the television match official Shaun Veldsman.

The skipper appeared to ground the ball at the same time as his foot was dragged into touch by wing Bryan Habana.

Flyhalf Dan Carter, who only succeeded with five of his nine kicks at goal, hacked the touchline conversion wide to leave the scores tat 22-22.

But the All Blacks then won the kick-off and powerful centre Ma’a Nonu muscled his way through midfield before firing out a long pass for replacement wing Dagg to run over the line unopposed, Carter kicking the conversion.

The visitors had played most of the rugby, dominating possession and constantly probing with their ball-in-hand approach.

But the Springboks produced a passionate defensive performance, were far more accurate at the breakdowns and remained in front thanks to the faultless goal-kicking of flyhalf Morne Steyn, who succeeded with five penalties and a conversion.

New Zealand now have 23 points and have won the Tri-Nations for the 10th time in 15 years with a game to spare, while the defending champions have now lost four matches in a row.

The match, the first major game of rugby to be played in Soweto, was staged at the same venue that hosted last month’s Soccer World Cup final. – Reuters

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