New Zealand 35 South Africa 17: Carter makes Springboks pay for glut of penalties

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The Independent Online

There is good news and bad news about the Springboks. The good news is there was no abject surrender this time, like last week against Australia when they lost 49-0. The bad news? Surrender was replaced by sheer incompetence.

They condemned themselves to defeat by their own hand. With a series of offences, chiefly at the breakdown, they offered a New Zealand side far from its best a comfortable Tri-Nations victory courtesy of Daniel Carter's goal-kicking.

Carter landed his kicks like an undertaker hammering nails into a coffin. Seven penalties sailed over, giving South Africa no hope of catching the All Blacks. Poor defensive kicks from the visitors also handed New Zealand both their tries.

It was a messy, ugly, unconvincing Test match. The All Blacks won because they have a capacity to expand their game and seek continuity and space far beyond that of the South Africans. That ensured they spent much more time going forward.

Jake White's side have retreated to the laager, resorting to the old driving game around the fringes of rucks and mauls. At least they looked up for the contest, however, and they got off to a sensational start when Carter's kick was charged down after just 17 seconds and the scrum-half Fourie du Preez juggled the ball before scoring the try.

Alas, Du Preez then ruined a fine first-half performance with a bad mistake right on half-time.

Carter's kicking had taken New Zealand to a lead of 12-7 before Du Preez missed touch with a clearance kick. Carter and Muliaina ran the ball back before Du Preez's opposite number, Piri Weepu, burrowed over to score. Had Percy Montgomery landed a 39th-minute penalty it may well have been 12-10 at the break instead of 19-7.

The Boks had to score first after half-time but instead their captain, John Smit, was twice penalised at the breakdown in seven minutes and Carter banged over the goals to make it 25-7.

Du Preez's clever cross-kick set up Breyton Paulse for a try, Montgomery converting and landing a penalty for 25-17, but Carter guided another kick between the posts before Butch James missed touch and Carter again ran back. He then fed his captain, Richie McCaw, who scored.

South Africa took some comfort from Juan Smith's simply outstanding performance of non-stop tackling, covering and supporting, while his fellow flanker Solly Tyibilika at least ensured there was a contest at the breakdown. The centre Wynand Olivier also gave a fine defensive display, besides making one lovely attacking break.

New Zealand: L MacDonald; D Howlett, M Muliaina, S Tuitupou (L McAlister, 76), S Hamilton; D Carter, P Weepu (J Cowan, 61); N Tialata (G Somerville, 55), A Oliver (A Hore, 65), C Hayman, C Jack, A Williams, R Thorne, R So'oialo, R McCaw (capt; C Masoe, 76).

South Africa: P Montgomery; B Paulse, J Fourie, W Olivier, B Habana; B James, F du Preez; O du Randt (E Andrews, 48-57), J Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde, A van den Berg (J Muller, 66), V Matfield, J Smith, J Cronje, S Tyibilika (J van Niekerk, 65).

Referee: J Jutge (France).

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