Saturday, August 21, 2010
New Zealand clinched the Tri Nations title as they beat South Africa 29-22 in front of a capacity crowd at Soccer City in Johannesburg earlier today. Late tries from Richie McCaw and Israel Dagg proved the difference after a great encounter between the two old enemies.
It was Springbok captain John Smits 100th Test match appearance and in front of over 90 000 fans, the home side were looking on track to make it a special occasion as they were in the lead up until the 78th minute.
Morne Steyn had kicked 17 points and Schalk Burger scored a try as the Springboks were in command for most of the game, on track to pick up their first win of this years tournament.
The All Blacks played their free flowing game when possible though and created a huge amount of space out wide as lock Tom Donnelly provided the scoring pass for prop Tony Woodcock to canter over.
With two minutes left All Black captain Richie McCaw then crossed for a try in the corner that needed to be referred to the TMO. The sideline conversion was missed by Dan Carter, but shortly afterwards Maa Nonu broke the line and set replacement Israel Dagg away for the match winning try, sealing the Tri Nations title in the process.
"I really thought we had done enough. We worked hard and I really enjoyed the Test but the last minute," said a dejected Smit afterwards.
"At 22-all we wanted to get into a good field position so that Morn Steyn can have a go at a drop-goal, but we turned over possession, I missed a crucial tackle and it was game over.
"I cant think of anything worse than losing your 100th Test by missing a tackle at the death. Ill be disappointed for a very long time," he added.
Richie McCaw was thrilled with the win, saying he was incredibly proud of his team and that they did well to take the late opportunities, especially that last try.
"I'm happy we won but I feel sorry for John. For a guy like that, he probably deserved better but that's the way rugby goes. It's a cruel game," said McCaw.
Springbok coach Peter De Villiers congratulated the tournament winners.
"Well done to the All Blacks we saw last year what a great thing it is to win the Tri-Nations. They deserved it this year and played entertaining rugby. Its a huge disappointment for us the dressing room felt like a funeral afterwards," he said.