Morne Steyn joined Joel Stransky as the most celebrated goalkicker in South Africa after his nerveless penalty kick sealed a series win for the Springboks over the British & Irish Lions. Stransky sent the Rainbow Nations in raptures when his drop goal handed the Boks World Cup glory in 1995. They now have a new hero in Steyn, the Bulls' fly-half, who saw a penalty struck from inside his own half sail between the uprights to seal the 28-25 victory.
"I just went back to the basics," said Steyn who was making only his second appearance in the famous green shirt after replacing the out-of-sorts Ruan Pienaar. "When I struck it, I knew it was over," Steyn made his Springbok debut from the bench in the first Test in Durban, which was won 26-21 by the home side, producing a remarkable try-saving tackle on winger Ugo Monye, dislodging the ball as the Englishman crashed over the whitewash.
He came on in the 61st minute of the bone-crunching match here, with the Lions 18-9 ahead, and kicked a vital touchline conversion and two penalties. Steyn, however, is not an unknown quantity, having top scored with 191 points for the Bulls in their Super 14 triumph. "That was a really big kick," said the captain John Smit. "At times like those, I'm glad I only have to scrum and don't take those kicks.
"Hats off to Morne Steyn - to do that in only his second Test was massive. I was also glad he took it, after doing the damage in the Vodacom Super 14." Steyn's feat did not come as surprise to Heyneke Meyer, his former coach at the Bulls. "Morne Steyn did brilliantly when he came on," said Meyer. "His up-and-unders were perfectly weighted and he showed such character with that last kick. "His character is like a piece of charcoal - pressure turns him into a diamond.
"As soon as the penalty was given I knew he would get it, and the kick out of the corner was even better." Steyn's effort broke the hearts of the Lions and was cruel on the tourists. "It's certainly one of the biggest [disappointments], because I think the players deserved more. Just to see their faces afterwards was very sad," said Lions coach Ian McGeechan. "We could be sat here with two Test victories. We haven't had the rub of the green on the field. The efforts that has been put in by the players has been phenomenal."
McGeechan now has to pick his troops up off the floor for Saturday's final Test in Johannesburg. He also has to cobble together a XV from the players who are left standing from the brutally intense second Test match, Whoever takes to the field, McGeechan is confident his side have enough about them to win the third Test. "There's a lot of character in this group," he said. "People asked me the same question last week and I think they got their answer. It will be the same again.
"They're an incredible group of young men. Whatever happens with injuries, we'll be ready to win the third Test." * With agencies