South Africa 40-26 New Zealand, Tri-Nations
South Africa thrash All Blacks to set up decider
August 14, 2004
Marius Joubert dives in to score one of his hat-trick of tries
© Getty Images
South Africa set up a dramatic Tri-Nations finale against Australia next week when they thrashed New Zealand 40-26 in a pulsating match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The victory was South Africa's first against the All Blacks in nine games and could be a watershed for Jake White's Springboks. For New Zealand it's back to the drawing board for the under pressure coaching trio of Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen.
Apart from racing into a 10-0 lead after just six minutes, New Zealand were soundly outplayed. South Africa led 19-13 at halftime and, in truth, had Percy Montgomery had his kicking boots on, they might have been out of sight.
The match was eagerly anticipated by the South African public, but it looked early on as if the Springboks were in for a hiding. Flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens put New Zealand 3-0 up from a penalty after just two minutes and four minutes later fullback Mils Muliaina waltzed through the Bok defence as Breyton Paulse managed only a half-hearted tackle.
In contrast to the previous meeting between the sides in Christchurch, South Africa enjoyed a decent share of possession and New Zealand's dam wall had to burst after the sustained pressure.
It eventually came thanks to centre Marius Joubert breaking the tackle of All Black captain Tana Umaga. Montgomery's conversion drew the Boks within three points.
Shortly after, however, he missed his second penalty of the game. There was no such wastage from Mehrtens, whose penalty after 25 minutes made it 13-7.
But the rest of the half belonged firmly to South Africa, whose power in the tackle and intensity severely unsettled the Kiwis.
One big hit resulted in a turnover from which right wing Paulse scored in the corner, before Joubert scored his second after Barry slipped through a gap, drew his man and off-loaded.
The All Blacks didn't wait long to get their act together. Within the first minute of the second half they drew back within three points after South Africa were penalized at the breakdown.
Montgomery replied in like, but All Blacks left wing Joe Rokocoko, who always looked threatening, scored under the posts with half an hour left. Mehrtens conversion handed the lead back to the All Blacks at 23-22.
The lead exchanged hands twice more before the Springboks seized control, left wing Jean de Villiers scoring after Joubert turned provider.
Suddenly New Nealand were chasing the game again and the pressure told. They were pinned for not releasing the ball and South Africa went 33-26 up from the resulting penalty.
The killer blow was struck five minutes before time with Joubert completing his hat-trick as he was found with an inside pass from replacement loose forward Jacques Cronje. Cronje had taken the ball from a scrum that was the result of a bad knock by wing Doug Howlett.
Joubert was an obvious choice for man of the match, but there were a number of other candidates, including centre partner Barry, who combined some excellent running with forceful defence.
Joe van Niekerk, in his first test start since last year's World Cup, was superb with the ball in hand and the forwards did a good job of securing the possession that was so lacking in Christchurch.
South Africa: Tries: Centre Marius Joubert (3), right wing Breyton Paulse, left wing Jean de Villiers. Conversions: Montgomery (3). Penalties: Montgomery (3).
New Zealand: Tries: Fullback Mils Muliaina, left wing Joe Rokocoko. Conversions: Flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens (2). Penalties: Mehrtens (4)