Rugby Union: Venter banned for stamping on Fitzpatrick

New Zealand 55 South Africa 35
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The Independent Online
South Africa were overwhelmed at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday, after their loose forward Andre Venter was sent off early in the second half.

Venter was sent off 10 minutes after the interval for stamping on the Sean Fitzpatrick's face while he was on the ground in a ruck. Yesterday, Venter was suspended for three weeks.

New Zealand took full advantage of South Africa being a man short and went on to win the ill-tempered match - during which several punches were thrown - by a record margin.

It was the highest score that New Zealand have ever made against South Africa, and also the largest winning margin. The victory put New Zealand firmly in control of the Tri-Nations series. Only Australia, who play New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday, have any chance of wresting the championship from them.

"It was an important psychological blow for the All Blacks." their coach, John Hart, said. "To score 55 points against South Africa is a special day for New Zealand."

South Africa opened the scoring after two minutes when they engineered a powerful rolling maul to send Ruben Kruger in for a try. The underdogs almost scored again moments later but Kruger was stopped just short of the line and fractured an ankle attempting to evade the tackle.

New Zealand hit back immediately when Frank Bunce, playing his 50th international, burst through the midfield to set up a try for Alama Ieremia. The lead changed hands regularly in the first half, and, with three tries apiece, there was little between the teams at the break, when New Zealand led 23-21.

Two penalties early in the second half increased their lead, and once Venter had been sent off New Zealand were able to pierce the South Africans' defence at will to score four more tries.

Gary Teichmann, the South African captain who played an outstanding game, said his team had buckled under the pressure after Venter was sent off. "I thought at half-time we were in with a chance. Unfortunately, in the second half we just went astray." he said.

South Africa: R Bennett; J Small, P Montgomery, H Honiball, A Snyman; J de Beer (P Rossouw, 65), J van der Westhuizen; O du Randt, J Dalton, M Hurter, K Otto, M Andrews, R Kruger (F van Heerden, 10), A Venter, G Teichmann (capt).

New Zealand: C Cullen; J Wilson, F Bunce, A Ieremia, T Umaga; C Spencer, J Marshall; C Dowd; S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown, R Brooke, I Jones, T Randell, J Kronfeld, Z Brooke.