South African rugby was plunged into gloom as the Springboks crashed to a second Tri-Nations defeat. With the World Cup looming, the biggest crisis of Peter de Villiers' tenure as Springbok coach will intensify if his team lose in Brisbane against Australia on Saturday.
New Zealand took a bonus point for scoring four tries and John Smit's Springboks were close to disarray in the rain and wind of Wellington. Again, a South African forward was shown a yellow card, this time in the first five minutes. Danie Rossouw's stupid kick at the All Black captain, Richie McCaw, was an inelegant act, even if he barely connected.
What is it about the Springbok No 4 jersey? Does stupidity come with the shirt? The previous week in Auckland, Bakkies Botha's yellow card cost his side 10 points and a separate act, a headbutt on Jimmy Cowan, cost him a nine-week ban. This time, the All Blacks scored two tries while Rossouw was off. Ma'a Nonu applied a powerful finish from close range and Mils Muliaina ran in from distance after a brilliant piece of play by Piri Weepu.
South Africa trailed 13-0 before Rossouw's try, just on half-time. They were lucky Dan Carter had a woeful night with the boot. Despite being under pressure in the scrums and in the loose, where the All Black No 8, Kieran Read, had another superb game, South Africa started the second half well. Morne Steyn's penalty got them to 13-10. But outstanding All Black defence held the Boks at bay before the wing Rene Ranger scored in the corner and Weepu thumped over a 43-metre penalty. The substitute Israel Dagg beat four men to get the bonus-point try and Schalk Burger's try with six minutes left was too late.
The All Blacks' head coach, Graham Henry, said: "The guys were prepared to have a go and express themselves as a team. To score four tries against South Africa for a second successive week is hugely positive."
Smit said: "You have to be right at the top of your game if you want to win away in the Tri-Nations. We were better today but not at the top of our game. And the yellow card put us on the back foot."
New Zealand M Muliaina; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu (B Cruden, 73), R Ranger (I Dagg, 63); D Carter, P Weepu (J Cowan, 63); T Woodcock, K Mealamu (C Flynn, 75), O Franks (B Franks, 66), B Thorn, T Donnelly (S Whitelock, 63), J Kaino, K Read, R McCaw (capt; L Messam, 75).
South Africa Z Kirchner; J de Villiers (G Aplon, 40), J Fourie, W Olivier, B Habana; M Steyn, R Januarie (R Pienaar, 53); G Steenkamp, J Smit (capt; C Ralepelle, 74), CJ van der Linde (BJ Botha, 40), D Rossouw (A Bekker, 53), V Matfield, S Burger, P Spies (R Kankowski, 69), F Louw.
Referee A Rolland (Ireland).
Tries: Nonu, Muliaina, Ranger, Dagg
Pens: Carter 2, Weepu
Tries: Rossouw, Burger
Cons: M Steyn 2
Pen: M Steyn
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