South Africa claimed their first win on New Zealand soil in a decade with a gutsy victory over the All Blacks. The match went down to the wire with a piece of individual brilliance by the scrum-half Ricky Januarie and the cool head of the South African substitute Francois Steyn, who slotted the winning conversion, sealing the win for the world champions. A first-half try by JP Pietersen, three penalties to Percy Montgomery and a Butch James drop goal gave them a narrow 17-15 lead at the break.
And they were then forced to withstand a ferocious fightback by New Zealand, whose lone try came from replacement Sione Lauaki, before taking the spoils in the closing minutes. Stung by last weekend's 19-8 loss in Wellington, the visitors bounced back with a gritty performance in another brutal encounter to kick-start their Tri-Nations campaign ahead of next week's match against Australia in Perth.
The South Africans had never won at Carisbrook in seven previous attempts and they looked like a team desperate to end that streak. The South African scrum was much improved, while the All Blacks definitely missed the war horse Brad Thorn who was suspended for the game. Carter knocked over the first three-pointer in the fourth minute after Burger was penalised for a high tackle and he extended the All Blacks' lead to six points when Goddard caught Joe van Niekerk coming into the ruck from an offside position.
Montgomery became the first Springbok to score 100 points against New Zealand in Tests with his first shot on goal in the 12th minute before Carter replied with his third kick of the night when Juan Smith was penalised for a late tackle in the 15th minute. Williams was then caught offside at a Springboks line-out and Montgomery reduced the deficit to 9-6 and brought his side level with another shot at goal.
But Carter edged the hosts 12-9 in front again when hooker Bismarck du Plessis was caught offside. The first try of the match came in the 32nd minute and was the result of persistent pressure from the visitors in the All Blacks' 22. Adam Thomson was forced to ground the ball over the try-line under pressure from Bryan Habana and from the resulting five-metre scrum Van Niekerk powered off the back before off-loading to Pietersen who celebrated his 22nd birthday in style by going over in the corner to make it 14-12 in the visitors' favour.
Montgomery could not add the conversion but a James drop goal four minutes before half-time extended the lead to 17-12 before another Carter penalty on the stroke of the interval made it 17-15 to the Boks at the break. The All Blacks came out with renewed intent in the second half and went close to a try of their own but an unfavourable bounce denied left wing Rudi Wulf. They did not have to wait long though as Lauaki, who had only been on the field for a matter of minutes, powered over close to the posts.
Carter added the conversion to give the All Blacks a five-point lead and that was reduced to three with a penalty from James before Carter banged over a drop goal, only for James to reply almost immediately with another three-pointer. It set up a tense final 10 minutes which saw Matfield sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Lauaki before a piece of individual brilliance by Januarie, who collected his own chip-kick and swan-dived over the line, tied the match up.
Steyn nailed the conversion, Carter failed with a drop-goal attempt and the Springboks finally broke their 10-year New Zealand hoodoo. *PA Sport