Worried All Blacks scramble to victory

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Rugby Union

New Zealand 15 South Africa 11

For one moment, Sean Fitzpatrick just might have been tempted to stand Andrew Mehrtens a few beers. Instead, the New Zealand captain gave his match-winning kicker a good, old-fashioned rollicking.

Mehrtens had landed five of his nine penalty attempts for a victory the All Blacks scarcely deserved virtually to wrap up the inaugural Tri- Nations Championship. That, though, was not good enough for Fitzpatrick. "Andrew had a shocker - and that's putting it mildly. By his standards that was a very poor performance," he said

Thirteen months ago, Mehrtens's missed goal allowed South Africa to win the World Cup, but Fitzpatrick said he was not interested in revenge. "The World Cup final wasn't on our minds. We just wanted to play well and we didn't. Of course we're pleased to win, but the backs didn't create enough scoring opportunities. That's worrying, particularly with five away Tests looming up."

New Zealand were always under pressure when South Africa had matched their early drive and hit back to take control with the 19th-minute score from the full-back Andre Joubert. But that score was only enough for an 8-6 half-time lead and as Mehrtens drilled over three second-half penalties the Springboks found themselves on the losing end for the second successive week.

The New Zealand coach, John Hart, who named an unchanged side for Saturday's Test against Australia at Brisbane, was disappointed with his side and the refereeing of Ray Megson. "There were too many penalties," he said. "The referee just didn't allow the game to flow."

Hart was also angry that Megson did not order off South African hooker John Allen in the first minute. Megson penalised Allen for a head-butt on Fitzpatrick: "He should have been off the park," Hart said. "Head-butting is a sending-off offence".

New Zealand: Penalties Mehrtens 5. South Africa: Try Joubert. Penalties Stransky 3.

NEW ZEALAND: C Cullen (Manawatu); J Wilson (Otago), F Bunce, W Little (both North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); A Mehrtens, J Marshall (both Canterbury); C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown (all Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), R Brooke, M Jones (both Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago), Z Brooke (Auckland). Replacement: E Rush (North Harbour) for Wilson, 74.

SOUTH AFRICA: A Joubert; J Small (both Natal), J Mulder (Transvaal), B Venter (OFS), P Hendriks (Transvaal); J Stransky (Western Province), J Roux (Transvaal); O Du Randt (OFS), J Allen (Natal), M Hurter, J Ackermann (both Northern Transvaal), M Andrews (Natal), F Pienaar (Transvaal, capt), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal), G Teichmann (Natal). Replacement: J Swart (Western Province) for Joubert, 55.

Referee: R Megson (Scotland).

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