Rugby Union: Future looks All Black

New Zealand 28 South Africa 0
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The Independent Online
THE FIRST Tri-Nations Test of 1999 gave the injury-hit world champions South Africa even more to worry about and the new-look All Blacks a timely morale boost.

After a grinding first half, the new-look New Zealanders overpowered the Springboks and kept attacking with flair to rack up a record win. But the two coaches were looking beyond the scoreline afterwards, towards October's World Cup.

South Africa's Nick Mallet tried to play down the significance of his side's second successive defeat, following the shock loss to Wales in Cardiff a fortnight ago. "I'm not shattered, surprisingly. We knew it was going to be a very difficult game for us - they played some great rugby prior to us coming here, and we were coming off that defeat against Wales where our tight five didn't deliver," he said. He blamed inexperience in his young half-back combination of David von Hoesslin and Gaffie du Toit for some of the more glaring errors, and praised his team's defence, despite their letting through three tries.

The All Blacks coach, John Hart, called the win "an important step" and added that he would not have expected a 28-point margin "in my wildest dreams". The All Blacks led by just 6-0 at the break after being thwarted by some crunching last-ditch tackles and strong defensive scrummaging. But second-half tries from Christian Cullen, Jeff Wilson and Justin Marshall saw them gain just reward for an impressive all-round performance.

Du Toit, South Africa's new stand-off, had a difficult day, missing a penalty attempt and three drop-kick chances as the Springboks failed to score against New Zealand for the first time in 34 years.

New Zealand: J Wilson; C Cullen, A Ieremia, D Gibson (B Kelleher, 79), T Umaga (J Lomu, 62); A Mehrtens (T Brown, 77), J Marshall; C Hoeft, A Oliver, K Meeuws, N Maxwell, R Brooke (R Willis), J Kronfeld, T Randell (capt), A Blowers (D Mika, 77).

South Africa: P Montgomery (B van Straaten, 65); B Paulse, P Muller (R Fleck, 54), J Mulder, P Rossouw; G du Toit, D von Hoesslin; O du Randt (Ollie le Roux, 52), N Drotske, C Visagie (W Meyer, 76), M Andrews, K Otto (S Boome, 41), C Krige (A Vos, 10), G Teichmann (capt), A Venter.