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Boks are back with a vengeance

Boks are back with a vengeance

South Africa’s renaissance just went into overdrive. In beating New Zealand at Ellis Park by 40-26, they set themselves up for a Tri Nations title tilt.

South Africa’s renaissance just went into overdrive. In beating New Zealand at Ellis Park by 40-26, they ensured that the All Blacks would not be celebrating a first ever ‘three in a row’ in the Tri Nations tournament.

This result leaves New Zealand on 8 points, Australia on 9 and South Africa on 7 meaning that next week’s match between South Africa and Australia is a shootout for the title, with Australia winning it in the event of a draw.

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However, South Africa will feel that it’s very much in their hands now, given the home venue and the seismic boost to confidence that this win will have given them. For they were worth every cent of it, outscoring the Blacks by five tries to two.

Marius Joubert may never have another day like it. He scored three tries, set up another and tackled superbly.

South Africans will wish they could get Nelson Mandela to turn up every match. Both sides filed past the great man prior to kick off, and, as in the 1995 World Cup final, the All Blacks suffered under the stimulus of his presence.

But come kick off, New Zealand got away to a profitable first ten minutes. South Africa conceded three penalties, the third of which was converted by the returning Andrew Mehrtens before the Blacks scored the try of the day.

Schalk Burger may well be the player of the tournament, but he was astonished when Mils Muliaina capitalised on his knock-on to break past Breyton Paulse and sprint 60m for a terrific score. Mehrtens conversion stretched the Blacks out to a 10-0 lead.

The Boks dominated both possession and territory, in marked contrast to the Christchurch game, but through the remainder of the first half squandered opportunity after opportunity. Montgomery was far from ‘booty-licious’, missing with three penalty efforts in the first half.

However, after referee Nigel Williams retired with a hamstring injury, allowing touch judge Donal Courtney to take over, South Africa struck through Joubert. Having just been held up, Joubert took van Niekerk’s pop off a 5m scrum to burst past Umaga and score. Montgomery converted for 10-7 New Zealand.

A penalty for offside against the returning Matfield allowed Mehrtens to stretch the lead to 13-7, but the Boks countered with a try from Paulse in the corner following good work from Paulse, Montgomery and Conradie (back in for Fourie du Preez) to make it 13-12 New Zealand.

It got better for the Springboks off the kick-off when Paulse, van Niekerk and Barry combined before Barry’s break set up Joubert for an easy finish to push on to 19-13 South Africa.

After an exchange of penalties, the lead changed hands again when the ever-dangerous Rockococko burst through van der Westhuyzen and Barry to score under the posts. Mehrtens’ convert put them a point up at 23-22. With Mehrtens playing deeper than Spencer had been, the Blacks were playing well and looking dangerous at this point.

A penalty against Muliaina meant a further lead change as Montgomery capitalised to put the Boks 25-23 up but Mehrtens stroked over one of his own after Burger was penalised for offside – 26-25 New Zealand.

The endgame was all South African though. Joubert did well to get past Marshall and popped up a pass at the line for wing Jean de Villiers to fall over the line for the bonus point try.

Montgomery tacked on a penalty to push out to 33-26 with 11 minutes left as South Africa continued to pressurize the Blacks. They almost scored a fabulous try but Barry’s scoring pass was delayed a fraction, enabling Rockococko to get a finger to it. Had he held it he may have gone the distance himself. Hairline stuff.

In the end, it was the combination of the returning ‘Big Joe’ van Niekerk and Marius Joubert who inflicted the final damage as Joubert swept past Tuiali’i to score the final try. South Africa celebrated a famous win by 40-26 with the conversion.