A towering mountain overlooks the beautiful Newlands ground in the Cape, and a towering rugby player graced it yesterday. Richie McCaw gave one of the greatest displays in rugby history to shatter the new world champions in their own backyard. South Africa finished a fumbling, broken outfit, laid to waste by the genius of McCaw on the floor and his brilliant reading of the game, allied to coruscating tackling.
The Kiwi flanker and captain gave Schalk Burger a lesson in accuracy and precision. The Springbok lacks nothing in courage and commitment but when it came to detail, McCaw was in a class of his own. He won the loose ball constantly, cleverlyslowed it down when the situation required it, and made tackleafter tackle. No other player on the field was remotely in his class.
Chiefly due to McCaw, New Zealand ended up winning at a canter. They could even afford the luxury of seeing Daniel Carter miss kick after kick. Yet it never mattered because New Zealand were able to impose such an effective blanket defence that the Springboks never looked like breaking through.
South Africa's finishing was poor. They had two clear try-scoring chances in the first half but Adi Jacobs wasted both opportunities. Once he went alone and lost possession near the All Blacks line, then he threw a forward pass to Percy Montgomery.
It was a special day for the popular South African full-back, who won his 100th cap, the first Springbok to reach that milestone. But such a heavy defeat took the gloss off his day and it was a major upset which may well have tilted the balance of this year's Tri-Nations.
South Africa have not won that title since 2004 but they can still do so, with two home games against Australia in the next fortnight. But they finished so disorganised that it will take a major effort to lift them in time fornext Saturday's clash with the Wallabies in Durban.
New Zealand were ahead after only seven minutes when McCaw brilliantly picked up Ma Nonu's low pass and put in a perfect grubber kick over the South African line which Conrad Smith just reached ahead of Butch James. South Africa's awful finishing and lack of composure meant the scoreline stayed that way right up to half-time.
The Springboks continued to turn over ball and chances but Carter, who had missed four kicks in the first 28 minutes alone, continued to miss chances to finish them off. The All Blacks needed until the 65th minute to increase their lead, Carter atoning for his errors by sidestepping overfor a try. When Keven Mealamu caught a woeful pass by Jean de Villiers near his own line and rumbled over, New Zealand's joy was unconfined.
New Zealand: Tries: Smith, Carter, Mealamu.Conversions: Carter 2.
South Africa: Montgomery (Steyn, 57); Pietersen, Jacobs, De Villiers, Habana (sub Jantjes, 46); James, Du Preez (Januarie, 60); Mtawarira, Du Plessis (Strauss, 75), Van der Linde (Mujati, 76), Bekker, Matfield (capt), Burger ( Watson, 60), Smith, Spies (Rossouw, 75).
New Zealand: Muliaina; Kahui, Smith, Nonu, Sivivatu (Toeava, 24); Carter (Donald, 77), Cowan (Weepu, 53); Woodcock, Hore (Mealamu 61), Somerville (Afoa 47), Thorn (Boric, 76), Williams, Kaino (Thompson, 77), McCaw (capt), So'oialo.
Referee: M Goddard (Australia).
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