x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Clean sweep for South Africa

South Africa answer any lingering doubts about their authenticity as the premier team in international rugby.

South Africa answered any lingering doubts about their authenticity as the premier team in international rugby by beating New Zealand to win the Tri Nations. With the World Cup and the series trophy for defeating the British and Irish Lions under lock and key, the Springboks completed the clean sweep in Hamilton, New Zealand, by winning a pulsating match, 32-29, with the All Blacks.

They might not win any extra points for style, but coach Peter de Villiers has moulded his side into a ruthless winning machine. The boot was again the Boks' most potent weapon. Morne Steyn and his namesake Francois Steyn kicked 22 points between them for South Africa as they helped carry their team to a third Tri Nations title. The win not only ended the All Blacks run of four successive titles, but it was also the first time the Boks have beaten New Zealand in three successive Tests since 1976.

"I think they richly deserved to win the Tri Nations," said the New Zealand coach Graham Henry. "They've beaten the All Blacks three times and that's a pretty convincing win." Said de Villiers: "We will take the win tonight. But the All Blacks are a very, very good side." kaffleck@thenational.ae