Mon, Aug 03, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Morne Steyn sets record as ’Boks beat All Blacks

AFP , DURBAN

Morne Steyn of South Africa’s Springboks scores against the New Zealand All Blacks during their Tri-Nations match in Durban on Saturday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Morne Steyn scored a Tri-Nations record 31 points as South Africa defeated title holders New Zealand for the second time within eight days on Saturday.

Fly-half Steyn missed only the last of 10 kicks at goal as the Springboks triumphed 31-19 to move four points clear of the All Blacks after three rounds of the annual southern hemisphere championship completed by Australia.

Steyn eclipsed the 10-year record of All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens by two points on an evening when tighthead prop John Smit became the most capped Test captain after leading out the green and gold 60 times.

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers hailed Smit as a “great ambassador” for his country and said the team had shown magnificent character and spirit as they seek a third Tri-Nations title in 14 attempts.

“To become the most capped captain in front of my family, friends and home crowd is simply awesome. It is a tremendous achievement for all the squad,” Smit said.

Steyn also emphasized team spirit over his record: “All credit to our pack. Playing behind them is a privilege. It was one of those days with my goal kicking, everything went so well until the final kick.”

For the second straight Saturday, All Blacks skipper and flanker Richie McCaw refused to offer excuses, praising the current ’Bok team as among the best he has faced in a long career: “These guys are right up there among the best I have played against. We made too many mistakes just as we did last weekend. The ball was coming back too slow, which left us flat footed.”

Reigning world champions South Africa went in at half-time leading 22-13 after snatching 10 unanswered points late in the first half as they sought to defeat New Zealand on consecutive weekends for the first time in 33 years.

Steyn and Donald exchanged early penalty goals at a near-full Absa Stadium on a chilly mid-winter evening before All Blacks lock Isaac Ross dived over for a try in the corner and Donald converted.

As Welsh referee Nigel Owens laid down the law there were penalties aplenty and Steyn landed three and Donald one to leave the All Blacks 13-12 ahead before being rocked by a late first-half scoring flurry. Steyn evaded Donald and half-back partner Jimmy Cowan to go over halfway out after an untidy scrum and he converted his try before adding a penalty deep in stoppage time.

The Springboks suffered a few early second half blows as a 10-phase push for the try line yielded no reward and then Bakkies Botha became the third occupant of the “sin bin” after JP Pietersen and Isaac Ross received first-half yellow cards.

Another two penalties from Steyn and one each from Donald and his replacement, Luke McAlister, meant the nine-point half-time gap between the teams remained 30 minutes into the second half.

Steyn completed the scoring with another penalty to give South Africa eight points from two outings after a 28-19 win in Bloemfontein on July 25 over New Zealand, who defeated Australia 22-16 in the opening game.

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