Rugby Union: South Africa left reeling on the ropes

South Africa 18 New Zealand 29

Francois Pienaar was already down and out when the sucker punch finally landed. It had been a long time in coming, but once it caught South Africa flush on the chin they were never likely to climb off the canvas.

No boxer has ever been asked to take so much punishment. The Springboks bravely soaked up a succession of body blows. Their guard inevitably dropped once their captain had been carried off, and New Zealand's ferocious onslaught brought the contest to a brutal conclusion.

Pienaar faces three weeks out of action with a slipped vertebra of his neck. That will almost certainly rule him out of all the upcoming three Tests against the All Blacks. His absence will be a crucial factor because once he had been carried motionless from the field South Africa must have known the decision was always going to go against them.

Leading 18-6, they had done enough to suggest they might nick it on points. But with Pienaar gone New Zealand opened up to drive themselves to victory.

Glen Osborne, in as a late replacement for the injured Jonah Lomu, scored the decisive try in the 70th minute. Christian Cullen, the full-back, set up the chance, latching on to Andrew Mehrtens' pass down the left. Osborne, who has spent much of his time on the bench in the past year, neatly cut inside to score under the posts. Mehrtens added the conversion to give New Zealand a 19-18 advantage.

From that moment, sound judges in the capacity Newlands crowd sensed that South Africa might take a hammering of Rocky Balboa proportions. The bloody ending would not have disappointed them.

Craig Dowd drove his way over for a superbly worked try three minutes from time. Mehrtens duly stroked over the conversion and opened the cuts once again with a penalty in injury time that left the Springboks with little to look to forward in the rest of the month. Without Pienaar they lack leadership, and with Lomu likely to return at Durban next week another serious beating beckons.

Yet for long periods in the first half South Africa suggested that a shock win was very much on the cards. Tries from Japie Mulder and Os du Randt gave them a 15-6 lead at half time. Joel Stransky added a penalty early in the second half, but once Pienaar had gone South Africa were forced to realise the worst.

New Zealand are an awesome side. They are getting better with every game and their coach, John Hart, said: "Our ability to retain the ball for long periods always meant we were in control. South Africa defended bravely but I always felt that we had the game in our sights.

South Africa will hand the captaincy to Gary Teichmann, which will be significant in the long term for Springbok rugby. They plainly have to rebuild drastically over the next two years if they have any chance of retaining the World Cup. The next few weeks will be very hard. They certainly won't be pretty.

South Africa: Tries Mulder, du Randt; Conversion Stransky; Penalties Stransky 2. New Zealand: Tries Osborne, Dowd; Conversions Mehrtens 2; Penalties Mehrtens 5.

SOUTH AFRICA: J Small (Natal); J Swart (Western Province), H le Roux, J Mulder, P Hendriks (all Transvaal); J Stransky (Western Province), J van der Westhuizen (Northern Transvaal); M Hurter (Northern Transvaal), J Allan (Natal), O du Randt (Orange Free State), M Andrews, S Atherton,(both Natal), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal), F Pienaar (Transvaal), G Teichmann (Natal). Replacements: H Strydom (Transvaal) for Pienaar, 53; D Theron (Griqualand West) for Du Randt, 77.

NEW ZEALAND: C Cullen (Manawatu); G Osborne, W Little, F Bunce (all North Harbour), J Wilson (Otago); A Mehrtens, J Marshall (both Canterbury); O Brown, S Fitzpatrick, C Dowd, R Brooke (all Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), J Kronfeld (Otago), M Jones, Z Brooke (both Auckland). Replacements: A Ieremia (Wellington) for Little, 42; A Blowers (Auckland) for Kronfeld, 66.

Referee: D McHugh (Ireland).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform