Mistakes costly for All Blacks

Getty Images     26 Jul 2009     Getty Images

It was a powerful, predatory performance by the Springboks who secured their first win over the All Blacks at Bloemfontein. Traditional tight marking complemented the pressure the home team imposed on a diffident touring team.

Well controlled by halfback Fourie du Preez with adept tactical kicking, the Springboks did not rely on too much adventure and applied a tourniquet to the attacking efforts of the All Blacks which bled only a superb individual try to centre Conrad Smith.

There was a period midway through the second half when the All Blacks lifted the momentum of the game, but the mistakes were not eliminated and the prospect of a fighting win was lost in the 74th minute when another mistake yielded a try to Springbok centre Jacques Fourie.

A scrum turnover secured at the start of the fourth quarter by flanker Jerome Kaino, enjoying another fine game, was a potential turning point in the contest as the All Blacks built a sustained period of attack.

It yielded only a penalty goal for Stephen Donald, his third, but got New Zealand back within four points.

However, 10 minutes from time, a dreadful combination of errors handed the game to South Africa.

A lengthy attempt to build a move from a mid-field maul, which went on and on with the ball at the base of the maul was undone with a poor pass from replacement halfback Piri Weepu to replacement lock Jason Eaton was dropped.

The Springboks, as ever, were ready to pounce with dynamic No.8 Pierre Spies making ground and then the ball moving down the flank where Fourie raced 30m down the sideline to extend the lead to 25-16.

Only a dismal penalty kicking effort from Springbok first five-eighths Ruan Pienaar, who missed three penalty goal attempts, prevented further embarrassment for the All Blacks during a mistake-ridden first half. He was replaced at halftime by Morne Steyn.

He kicked a penalty goal, South Africa's fourth, and landed three in the game but he made a bad defensive mistake during the All Blacks' first try.

It came seven minutes into the second half from a scrum move when ball was moved quickly to centre Conrad Smith. He pushed off Steyn as he stepped through the line and found space to glide toward the line before going over in another tackle. Donald's conversion brought New Zealand back within seven points.

Apart from handling errors, generally in the face of torrid Springbok tackling, the set piece organisation of the All Blacks was poor. Lineouts were inaccurate and halfback Brendon Leonard was twice penalised for incorrect feeds to scrums.

At altitude that allowed the Springboks the advantage with long penalty clearances deep into the All Blacks half.

Pienaar, who had his first two penalty goal attempts rebound off the posts before striking his first, also scored the first try of the game after an intense period of South African attack.

Twenty-six minutes into the first half, No.8 Pierre Spies made a powerful charge and was pulled up just short of the line. The ball came back and second five-eighths Jean de Villiers broke but was held, although able to fire a pass to the following Pienaar who went over in the corner.

Leonard, who had an uncomfortable first half, then made a bad mistake just before the halftime break when, from the All Blacks' best attacking position, broke from a scrum only to pass the ball to De Villiers who set up the clearance.


South Africa 28 (Ruan Pienaar try; Francois Steyn 2 pen, Ruan Pienaar pen, Morne Steyn 3 pen) New Zealand 19 (Conrad Smith try; Stephen Donald con, 4 pen)
HT: 14-3