A furious onslaught by the Springboks in the last five minutes at Ellis Park on Saturday failed to breach a rigid All Black defence and when the stand-off, Jannie de Beer, struck the post with a penalty two minutes from time to spoil an otherwise immaculate kicking display South Africa's last chance of levelling the Tri-Nations match also came to naught.
New Zealand, however, deserved their victory. The veteran centre, Frank Bunce, scored two tries and Jeff Wilson and Carlos Spencer one each in response to South Africa's two.
"That was an epic match of rugby and the Springboks played really well for the first half-hour," the All Blacks coach, John Hart, said.
The Springboks' initial dominance stemmed from tries from Naka Drotske in the fifth minute and the full-back, Russell Bennett, in the 26th. De Beer converted both scores and kicked two penalties from 40 metres out. His finest effort was a dropped goal in the 21st minute just inside All Black territory.
Yet New Zealand refused to buckle and, after three successive tap penalties on South Africa's 22-metre line, Lee Stensness linked with Bunce and the centre carved through to score under the posts.
The last 10 minutes belonged to New Zealand. Wilson charged down a Joost van der Westhuizen kick ahead to score on the right. Then, from the restart, Wilson, on the left this time, provided the kick infield for Spencer to run on to and score.
From 23-7 down after half an hour, New Zealand turned round just four points in arrears. Then, after De Beer had slotted another penalty in the 44th minute, Bunce ran in his second try from the half-way line. That set up a furious finale, but De Beer's nerve failed him when his 78th- minute penalty hit the upright.
South Africa: Tries Drotske, Bennett; Penalties De Beer 4; Conversions De Beer 2; Drop Goals De Beer 2. New Zealand: Tries Bunce 2, Wilson, Spencer; Penalties Spencer 3; Conversions Spencer 3.
South Africa: R Bennett (J Small, 42); A Snyman, P Montgomery (H Honiball, 73), D van Schalkwyk, P Rossouw; J de Beer, J van der Westhuizen; G Teichmann (capt), A Venter, R Kruger, M Andrews (F van Heerden, 66), K Otto, M Hurter, N Drotske, O du Randt (D Theron, 67).
New Zealand: C Cullen; J Wilson, F Bunce, L Stensness, T Umaga (A Erimea 50); C Spencer, J Marshall; Z Brooke, J Kronfeld, T Randell, R Brooke, I Jones, O Brown, S Fitzpatrick (capt) (N Hewitt, 50), C Dowd.
Referee: P Marshall (Australia).Reuse content