x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Steyn's boot guides South Africa to Tri Nations victory

Morne Steyn kicked all of South Africa's points as they notched up their first Tri Nations victory of the year against New Zealand.

New Zealand's Israel Dagg, right, wins a tussle for a high ball against South Africa.
New Zealand's Israel Dagg, right, wins a tussle for a high ball against South Africa.

Morne Steyn was back at his best as South Africa rediscovered the art of winning by beating a second-string New Zealand yesterday to complete their Tri Nations campaign.

The goal kicker went into the match battling to remain first-choice fly-half ahead of 2007 World Cup winner Butch James and put down a marker by kicking five penalties and a drop goal.

Bloodied and battered flank Heinrich Brussow was another star as the fiery Springboks shrugged off three consecutive losses in the southern hemisphere championship to end on an upbeat note.

New Zealand, showing 12 changes from the team that beat Australia in Auckland with Dan Carter and Richie McCaw among the absentees, deserved more than a Richard Kahui try.

The All Blacks now go to Brisbane and a title decider against Australia next Saturday while the Springboks face the daunting challenge of becoming the first side to successfully defend the world title next month in New Zealand.

"This was an awesome result after three performances that were not good. I'm happy where we are but there is room for improvement," said stand-in skipper and lock Victor Matfield.

All Blacks captain Keven Mealamu replied: "This was a very disappointing result because we had chances to score early in the first half but did not take them."

South Africa defended superbly in the first half at a packed Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in this coastal city and led 15-5 at half-time thanks to four penalties and a drop goal from Steyn.

The All Blacks attacked from the kick-off and were deprived of a 50-second try by a superb tackle from Bryan Habana which prevented Jimmy Cowan going over.

A Jaque Fourie intercept salvaged another dangerous situation for the under-pressure Springboks before Steyn slotted his first penalty with eight minutes gone.

Superb South Africa scrummaging led to New Zealand being penalised and Steyn once more made light of the challenging distance to guide the ball between the posts.

Brussow was forced to leave the field for nine minutes to have medical attention to his bloodied face and Ashley Johnson came into the back row.

Another Steyn penalty on 18 minutes gave the home team a flattering nine-point advantage with New Zealand having more possession and territory, but unable to make it count.

South Africa full-back Patrick Lambie retired hurt before Steyn lifted green and gold spirits with his fourth successful penalty followed a few minutes later by a trademark drop goal.

The All Blacks finally got off the mark five minutes before half-time by winning a line-out, and slick handling and an inside break set up Kahui, but Colin Slade failed to convert.

Steyn went close with a second drop-goal attempt just before the break, but South Africa could be thoroughly satisfied after their best 40 minutes of the Tri-Nations season.

Cowan crossed the try-line seven minutes into the second half but the score was ruled out after the television match official correctly noted that the scoring pass from Israel Dagg was forward.

The only points of the half came on the hour mark as Steyn made it five out of five when presented with another penalty chance.

* Agence France-Presse