In the second Tri-Nations rugby Test, world champions South Africa narrowly beat New Zealand, their first victory over the All Blacks at home in 10 years.
New Springboks coach Peter de Villiers deflected praise for their historic win over the All Blacks here Saturday, saying he had nothing to prove despite enduring personal criticism in the match build up.
The Springboks pulled off a come-from-behind 30-28 win over the All Blacks in the second Tri-Nations rugby Test to underscore their world champions tag and break a 10-year losing streak in New Zealand.
De Villiers was the target of much criticism after the Springboks lost the first Test in Wellington 19-8 a week ago which included South Africa's first black coach being tagged a "puppet" by former All Blacks prop Craig Dowd.
But a late piece of individual magic by scrumhalf Ricky Januarie to pull off the match winning try silenced the critics.
It ended the All Blacks 30-match home winning streak and was the Springboks first ever win in 100 years of Test rugby at Dunedin's Carisbrook ground, known as the House of Pain by visiting teams who seldom win there.
However, de Villiers said the kudos had to go to the team and not the coach.
"I have got nothing to prove. If I believe in myself, if I believe in my players, if I believe in my God I don't need people around me," he said.
"Everybody has got an opinion and we respect their opinions but it doesn't mean we agree with their opinion.
"I think if we can stand up as we did today as a group, people will change their own opinions."
De Villiers said that after the first Test loss, the Springboks knew they had to produce a special effort to keep their Tri-Nations hopes alive.
"They are the world champions and they always knew that they had to uplift their game and today they did," he said.
"Their self belief just grew. I was a bit worried with 14 men left but the guys stuck to their guns and had a great win."
He also declined to single out match-winner Januarie for special praise.
"You must look at the team," he said. "Last week we played backwards and this week we had the ball on the front foot."
The winning points came when the South Africans were down to 14 men after skipper Victor Matfield was sin-binned with seven minutes remaining in the match for a high tackle on All Blacks replacement backrower Sione Lauaki.
Matfield, who admitted he "felt bad" at being sent off when his side were trailing 23-28, said they were inspired by a taped pre-match message from injured regular skipper John Smit.
"I think that really lifted the guys, so he's sharing in this win just as much as we are."
Inside centre Jean de Villiers, who took over the leadership when Matfield was sidelined, said the enormity of the win could not be emphasised enough.
"It took us a 100 years (to win in Dunedin) and it might take us another 100 years to win another one but we're ecstatic," he said.
"When we scored that (Januarie's) try we told ourselves three years ago we were in the same position and let it slip so we stuck to our guns today."
All Blacks coach Graham Henry accepted the Springboks deserved the win and his side could only learn from their defeat.
"I don't think at this level anyone likes to be beaten, and we certainly didn't go out with that attitude," he said.
"The guys, I think, will learn a lot from this match. There's a lot of players in this side who haven't played a lot of Test match rugby and they will grow immensely from this."
Date created : 2008-07-12