The All Blacks captain took back the Test points crown as his side thrashed South Africa in Wellington on Saturday.
Dan Carter kicks his way back to the top of rugby point scorers
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND // Dan Carter reclaimed rugby union's international scoring record from England's Jonny Wilkinson, kicking 10 points as New Zealand thrashed South Africa 40-7 in a Tri Nations Test on Saturday.
The All Blacks fly-half came into the match with 1,194 Test points - one behind Wilkinson's tally of 1,195 - and seized the record with his first successful penalty after only two minutes.
He ended the match with 1,204 points, nine points ahead of Wilkinson, with whom he could battle for the record at the Rugby World Cup later this year. The pair have exchanged the record in recent northern and southern hemisphere seasons: Carter had it at the end of New Zealand's tour to Britain last November, but the England fly-half reclaimed it during this season's Six Nations tournament.
Carter's goalkicking was below par in windy conditions yesterday - he landed four from eight attempts - but he was a perpetual attacking threat, tearing gaping holes in the defence of a depleted and generally inept Springboks line-up.
Cory Jane outshone Carter, the winger making a brilliant international comeback and pressing his case for World Cup selection by scoring two tries.
Jane was omitted from New Zealand's initial Tri Nations squad after a poor Super 15 season and missed the opening Test of the year against Fiji last week with a compound dislocation of a finger.
But, chosen yesterday to play his 23rd Test and his first since October last year, Jane nudged his way into World Cup contention amid the crowded competition for outside backs places.
"It's going to be difficult when it comes to that final World Cup selection, particularly out wide," Graham Henry, the All Blacks coach, said. "Cory Jane was outstanding tonight, so he's put his hand up, Zac Guildford put his hand up again, so that wing and full-back position is really close."
Jane scored a sensational 33rd-minute try to help the All Blacks to an 18-7 lead by half time and added another five minutes into the second spell to clinch New Zealand's four-try bonus point and their biggest winning margin against the Springboks in a home Test.
Guildford, the left winger, also scored two tries yesterday. He claimed his first in Test matches in the 15th minute, two minutes after his Canterbury Crusaders teammate, the prop Wyatt Crockett, had also scored his first international try in tests. The quick double from Crockett and Guildford lifted New Zealand to a 13-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Henry said the All Blacks had improved on their 60-14 win over Fiji but would have to improve further to test Australia in Auckland next Saturday.
"I thought our kicking game was average at times," Henry said. "We didn't defend very well from the breakdown so we've got some work to do, and the Australians will be a very good rugby side. If we don't improve in those areas we'll be in some trouble next week.
"We probably played about seven out of 10. We were about five out of 10 last week so it's getting better, and if we can get another improvement next week, that will be very satisfying."
The Springboks scored their only try after 29 minutes through their veteran captain, John Smit, whose 104 Test caps outnumbered the combined total of almost all of his current crop of teammates.
South Africa chose to leave 21 front line players at home during the Australian and New Zealand section of its Tri Nations schedule and paid heavily, losing 39-20 to Australia last weekend and to the All Blacks by a margin which eclipsed their previous heaviest loss in New Zealand, by 28-0 in 2003.
"The scoreboard looks pretty ugly," Smit said. "It's the age-old rule against these blokes - you turn the ball over and you're going to pay."
Peter de Villiers, the South Africa coach, said the Springboks' performance was not as bad.
"If you look at the score board you'll be very, very disappointed, but if you look at how we sometimes controlled the game but couldn't convert our possession into points, that was more disappointing than anything," he said.
"We don't want to become a good losing side. As winning becomes a habit, so does losing, and we don't want that kind of habit."