South Africa lose to Australia in Durban with just one match to go before World Cup opener against Wales.
|All of South Africa’s points came from the boot of Steyn during a confidence boosting win [GALLO/GETTY]|
Morne Steyn kicked all of South Africa’s points in a pressure-releasing 18-5 win over New Zealand in Tri-Nations rugby on Saturday.
Steyn landed five penalties and a drop goal on his return to flyhalf for the world champion Springboks, giving them a much-needed victory in their last game before next month’s World Cup.
Center Richard Kahui crossed for the All Blacks’ only score five minutes before halftime, but New Zealand never came close to threatening South Africa’s lead after Steyn kicked the Boks 15-0 ahead after 32 minutes.
The hard-fought victory over No. 1-ranked New Zealand, who were resting eight frontline players, was South Africa’s first of the season and avoided the team’s first-ever winless Tri-Nations campaign.
The Boks’ 100-test veterans John Smit and Victor Matfield also got to enjoy a win in their final test at home.
Under pressure to show form ahead of rugby’s showpiece tournament, South Africa’s victory was built on Steyn’s accurate kicking – he landed five from five penalties – a big forward effort and solid defense.
“We haven’t been good the last three weeks. We wanted to show our fans we can go to the World Cup and defend it”
The All Blacks missed golden opportunities to score and had a try by scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan disallowed for a forward pass in the second half, when the visitors dominated territory and possession but couldn’t break through a stubborn and at times desperate South African defensive effort.
“It’s awesome,” said Matfield, captain in place of regular skipper Smit, who played off the bench.
“We haven’t been good the last three weeks. We wanted to show our fans we can go to the World Cup and defend it.
“I think we’re ready. You don’t beat the All Blacks if you’re not ready for the World Cup.”
Giving many fringe players a tryout before next week’s World Cup squad announcement, the All Blacks threatened through carving runs by returning fullback Israel Dagg, Kahui, and wings Isaia Toeava and Hosea Gear, but could only convert one of at least four clear tryscoring opportunities.
“The way we played, we had huge opportunities there,” said New Zealand captain Keven Mealamu.
“We were so close to turning that scoreboard around. We just couldn’t hold onto the ball.”