Fleck restores lost Springbok pride

Click to follow
The Independent Online

South Africa ended a four-match losing run with a spectacular victory over New Zealand in the Tri-Nations encounter at Ellis Park yesterday.

South Africa ended a four-match losing run with a spectacular victory over New Zealand in the Tri-Nations encounter at Ellis Park yesterday.

The Springboks began the match like men possessed and wreaked havoc with the All Blacks' defensive patterns, Chester Williams shrugging off some weak tackles to score his 14th Test try on his return to the Springbok starting line-up.

Then it was Robbie Fleck's turn. Brought into the team to replace the injured De Wet Barry, the centre first went outside Andrew Mehrtens to claim his first try, then sliced through again13 minutes later.

The rest of the Springbok backline thrived on their new-found confidence, but it was the forwards who set the platform for victory, with flanker Johan Erasmus outstanding.

For the All Blacks, Tana Umaga and Christian Cullen were a consistent danger. They each scored two tries for a New Zealand match total of four, enough for a bonus point that - coupled with a second for losing by less than seven points - puts them in pole position in the Tri-Nations table.

The All Blacks were dominant through much of the second half, but only Cullen was able to pierce the South African defences with his second try.

When scrum-half Werner Swanepoel scored his second try 10 minutes from the end, South Africa had a match-winning lead that would relieve some of the pressure on the South Africa coach, Nick Mallett, whose satisfaction was clear: "We just had to ignore the criticism and keep doing what we knew was right."

South Africa meet Australia in the final match in Durban next Saturday. If the Springboks win, then New Zealand will win the Tri-Nations. If the Wallabies win, they will take the title for the first time.

South Africa: T Delport; C Williams, G Esterhuizen, R Fleck (B van Straaten 78), B Paulse; B van Straaten (J van der Westhuyzen 78), W Swanepoel; O le Roux (J Smit 59), C Marais, C Visagie (W Meyer 74), A Venter, M Andrews (A van den Berg 70), J Erasmus, C Krige (W Brosnihan 70), A Vos (capt).

New Zealand: C Cullen (L McDonald 51); T Umaga, A Ieremia, P Alatini, J Lomu; A Mehrtens, J Marshall; C Hoeft, A Oliver (M Hammett 51), K Meeuws (G Somerville h-t), T Blackadder (capt), N Maxwell (T Flavell 45-51), T Randell, J Kronfeld (S Robertson 70), R Cribb.

Comments