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Springboks grab third Tri-Nations trophy

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-12

The dominant World champions South Africans held off a late All Blacks charge for a 32-29 victory to secure the Tri-Nations rugby crown for the first time in five years. It is the third time that South Africa has won the trophy.

AFP - The dominant Springboks held off a late All Blacks charge for a 32-29 victory here Saturday to secure the Tri-Nations rugby crown for the first time in five years.

Both sides scored two tries, but the pertinent scoring difference for the world champions was the phenomenal boot of Frans Steyn who landed three penalties from inside his own half, the longest from 60 metres.

The Springboks went into the crucial Test knowing just one bonus point from a close loss should have been enough to secure the title, but said they would accept nothing less than victory.

In the end the final score flattered the All Blacks who fought back from a 17-point deficit early in the second half and were only a fingertip away from pulling off a surprise win at the end.

The win not only gave the Springboks their third Tri-Nations title, but for the first time since 1970-1976 they have beaten the All Blacks in three successive Tests.

For nearly three-quarters of the game the Springbok were in a class of their own as they dominated across the field, forcing the All Blacks into repeated handling errors.

The first-half onslaught, in which they led 22-12 at half-time, was stretched to 29-12 early in the second spell, leaving the All Blacks searching for answers.

Apart from the first scrum, which yielded a penalty to the All Blacks, the Springboks held their own up front, while Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha won the first four All Blacks lineout throws.

Their back row of Pierre Spies, Heinrich Brussow and late replacement Schalk Burger conceded nothing to the All Blacks in the battle of the breakdown.

South Africa scored two tries, to Fourie de Preez and Jean de Villiers with Frans Steyn landing his three massive penalties while Morne Steyn added 13 points from a range of close range penalties, conversions and a drop goal.

The All Blacks point-scoring machine Dan Carter landed five penalties and converted the try by Sitiveni Sivivatu.

The All Blacks had points on the board from the opening whistle, gifted a penalty from the way the Springboks gathered and protected the kick-off and Carter secured the three points.

That was the cue for fullback Frans Steyn to step up and launch his kicking onslaught as he landed penalties from 60 and 58 metres to put the Springboks in front and they were never to relinquish the lead.

The All Blacks had targeted the scrums as a potential Springbok weakness and were rewarded with a penalty in the 13th minute when they packed down for the first time.

Carter's successful kick levelled the scores but it was a short-lived respite as the Springboks struck back with a 40m drop goal by fly-half Morne Steyn.

They stretched the lead minutes later when Bryan Habana knocked Joe Rokocoko out of the way going for a high ball and scrum-half Fourie du Preez was on hand to score.

Morne Steyn, who took the closer kicks, landed the conversion and the Springboks were firmly in command at 16-6.

Further penalties from Carter and both Morne and Frans Steyn rounded out the first half scoring with the All Blacks losing two try-scoring opportunities when Carter and then Stephen Donald opted to chip-kick possession away.

In an attempt to shore up his shaky midfield, All Blacks coach Graham Henry pulled inside centre Donald 10 minutes into the second half in a switch that immediately produced points for the Springboks.

Carter's first pass to Isaia Toeava was intercepted by de Villiers who raced away to score unopposed for Morne Steyn to convert.

With the game almost out of reach, the All Blacks snapped into action and scored their first try when Toeava broke down the left flank to put Sitiveni Sivivatu over in the corner.

Carter added the conversion and a penalty to reduce the gap to seven points before Morne Steyn completed the Springboks scoring with his second penalty.

In the dying minutes a Carter crosskick was fielded by Richie McCaw wide out to touch down, but a repeat of that move with time on the clock ended with the All Blacks tipping the ball into touch.

Date created : 2009-09-12

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