Tri Nations 2007
Match report: All Blacks edge out Springboks
PA Sport
June 23, 2007
Date/Time: Jun 23, 2007, 15:00 local, 13:00 GMT
Venue: Kings Park Stadium, Durban
South Africa 21 - 26 New Zealand
Attendance: 52500  Half-time: 11 - 6
Tries: Burger, James
Cons: Montgomery
Pens: Montgomery 2, Pienaar
Tries: McCaw, Rokocoko
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 3
Drops: Mauger
Joe Rokocoko runs in to score the final try in New Zealand's Tri Nations win over South Africa at King's Park, June 23 2007
Joe Rokocoko runs in to score the final try in Durban
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New Zealand struck the first psychological blow before the World Cup when they crossed the line twice in the last 10 minutes to beat South Africa 26-21 in today's Tri Nations clash at Absa Stadium .

Down 12-21 with 15 minutes remaining, the All Blacks raced in two converted tries in three minutes to captain Richie McCaw and wing Joe Rokocoko to successfully open their title defence in clinical style.

Before a packed house of 52,000 at Absa Stadium, it was just the All Blacks' second win from their last five tests in the republic. Both sides scored two tries apiece.

It was the All Blacks' first big test of the year after comfortable victories over an under-manned France and an outclassed Canada, while the physical Springboks defended magnificently but seemed to feel the effects of last weekend's torrid 22-19 win over the Wallabies in the final quarter.

After a bruising first half of huge collisions, turnovers and handling errors it took until just seconds before the halftime whistle for the first try of the match.

Springboks colossus Schalk Burger, a mighty defensive presence for the home side, snapped a 6-6 deadlock when he crashed over from a lineout drive to give the hosts an 11-6 lead at the break.

On a warm, sunny day with temperatures about 24degC, both sides struggled to finish off chances in the first half.

The Springboks dominated possession and the physical exchanges in the opening quarter but the All Blacks' defence scrambled.

Percy Montgomery's fifth minute penalty was followed by a monster 53m penalty from halfback Ruan Pienaar to make it 6-0 after 20 minutes.

All Blacks star Dan Carter missed two kickable penalties within 40m, but he made amends in the 31st and 37th minutes to level the scores as the tourists grew in confidence.

Burger's try on halftime sparked one of a host of niggly moments which threatened to boil over, both forward packs pushing and shoving after the whistle.

Aaron Mauger's dropped goal from 30m narrowed it to 11-9 immediately after halftime, before the cool-headed midfielder turned villain three minutes later.

From a promising All Blacks counter-attack, Mauger flipped a pass straight to Springboks' No 10 Butch James who raced 35m to score his second test try. Montgomery's conversion made it 18-9 with 35 minutes remaining.

After repeated warnings from referee Alain Rolland, the hosts were reduced to 14 men when he sin-binned replacement flanker Pedrie Wannenburg for killing the ball in the 55th minute with the All Blacks hot on attack. Carter goaled the penalty to make it 18-12.

The All Blacks' scrum began to dominate and they sped the game up as the big Boks began to tire.

Montgomery extended the lead to nine with another penalty before the home defensive wall finally cracked 12 minutes from the end as Rodney So'oialo sparked the All Blacks.

The No 8 made a magnificent kick return, linked with Jerry Collins and the All Blacks shifted the ball wide before McCaw, the third of their outstanding loose forward trio, dived over.

Three minutes later the All Blacks finally hit the front when replacement Leon MacDonald pounced on loose ball and raced away, drawing and passing to the flying Rokocoko.

South Africa (11) 21
Tries: Burger, James
Pens: Montgomery (2), Pienaar
Con: Montgomery

New Zealand (6) 26
Tries: McCaw, Rokocoko
Pens: Carter (3)
Cons: Carter 2
DG: Mauger

South Africa: Montgomery; Willemse, Fourie, De Villiers, JP Pietersen; Butch James, Ruan Pienaar; Du Randt, Gary Botha, BJ Botha, Bakkies Botha, Matfield (capt), Burger, Rossouw, Skinstad.

Replacements: Du Plessis, CJ van der Linde, Muller, Wannenburg, Claassens, Olivier, Steyn.

New Zealand:
Muilaina; Rokocoko, Toeava, Mauger, Sivivatu; Carter, Kelleher; Woodcock, Oliver, Hayman; Flavell, Rawlinson; Collins, McCaw, So'oialo.

Replacements: Mealamu, Tialata, Filipo, Masoe, Weepu, McAlister, MacDonald.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

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