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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz