Planet Rugby

All Blacks bustled out of Durban

01st August 2009 17:55

Share:

Sivi wrapped up in Durban

No way through: The green curtain comes down on Sitiveni Sivivatu

A crisis is looming in New Zealand rugby after the All Blacks fell to a second consecutive Tri-Nations defeat in South Africa, 31-19 in Durban on Saturday.

Morne Steyn scored every single one of his team's points with a terrific display of place-kicking.

The All Blacks had challenged themselves to respond from last week's defeat in Bloemfontein. But their comebacks lacked incision and/or punch. At times they ran at illusory gaps in ridiculous field positions, at other times the passing was so woefully inaccurate you wondered if they had done any linking work at all in training in the week.

Some players ran when they should have kicked, others took contact when they should have run, others kicked when they should have taken contact... the list of wrong options goes on. However much laent talent there is in this team, it is simply not gelling. Whether that is a brains trust matter, a matter of the personalities or mentalities of the players themselves or a lack of leadership is difficult to say, but one thing is clear, if this is the squad trusted to take New Zealand rugby forward, it needs to sit down together and thrash out a number of issues regarding strategy, handling and teamwork, for all three were errant here.

Another thing clear is that Joe Rokocoko badly needs a rest. His talent is as unrefutable as his current form is atrocious, and Graham Henry cannot afford to hang him out to dry any longer. A spell scoring tries in the Air New Zealand Cup would be just the tonic the big wing needs. Another international appearance like this could scar him for life.

He was not the only one to have an off-day on Saturday though, with Stephen Donald going a good way to proving his doubters right, Ma'a Nonu once again subdued and Sitiveni Sivivatu inexplicably error-prone. Even Richie McCaw fell prone to some extraordinary mistakes during the second half, a disturbing development for All Black fans to witness.

South Africa once again made it as ugly a win as can be, but find a Springbok supporter who cares. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and none of the green-clad present will find a more beautiful vision on Sunday than the Tri-Nations table, nor would they remember one more than the departure of the twice-beaten All Blacks.

We mentioned in our preview that statistics tell so much of rugby's tale. Here's a few from this game: New Zealand made twice as many handling errors: 28-14. New Zealand gave away penalties: 14-8, New Zealand lost line-outs on their own throw: 4-1. New Zealand lost their own scrums: 2-0. Did South Africa win this or did New Zealand throw it away?

A bit of both really. South Africa never once let up the pressure on their opponents, harrying, chivvying, bulldozing and squeezing out all the errors and penalties, with Morne Steyn's boot punishing everything it was given the chance to.

Once Rokocoko and Sivivatu had revealed their fragility under the high balls, the Boks were merciless in their exploitation. The panic that set in and the pressure the All Blacks put themselves under to pass and run their way out of the holes was fast food to the Bok defence, which was just as merciless in its sacking of any isolated All Black - there was an inexplicably high number of those too - as it was in pouncing on the handling errors and punishing the infringements.

The teams exchanged penalties early on as Nigel Owens stamped his authority on the game. He was consistent, if stringent, and controlled the game with his usual measured schoolmaster approach, challenging the teams to respond.

New Zealand responded first, with Richie McCaw making a break from a line-out on his own 22 before setting Nonu and Muliaina away, but with Sivivatu slipping it seemed the move had died. But there was Rokocoko to flip the ball out and Isaac Ross once again displayed a flash of his immense promise with the try in the corner.

Donald converted from the touchline to make it 10-3 after ten minutes and briefly, advantage All Blacks.

But back came the Boks with the pressure. High balls, big tackles, vigorous rucks. An offside after 14 minutes, 10-6. Holding on isolated in the tackle, 10-9.

Another breakout from the All Blacks, led by Muliaina was halted by a high tackle on Jimmy Cowan, which saw JP Pietersen sent to the bin and Donald make it 13-9, but Ross followed Pietersen moments later for a silly offside, from which Steyn made it 13-12.

The killer blow was landed by Steyn, typically capitalising on a huge piece of defensive work fom his scrum, which turned New Zealand ball over three metres from the line. All the Bulls fly-half had to do was step and dive over, a manoeuvre he made look decidedly nonchalant.

His conversion made it 19-13 and there was another penalty just before half-time as well which made it 22-13.

Donald and Steyn shared four penalties early in the second half, which was rendered a stalemate by a combination of the Bok defence and All Black mis-handling, but the pressure from the men in green just did not let up - even while Bakkies Botha was off the field for ten minutes for hanging about offside.

Steyn landed a late penalty to put the game beyond reach and could have made the score more emphatic in the final minute, but inexplicably pushed a simple late penalty wide. Not to worry. He now holds the record for the most points scored in any one Tri-Nations game, beating Andrew Mehrtens' previous best, and with that, plus a Lions-conquering kick to show for his first five caps, it could be that success could follow him everywhere he goes. In fact, with the Boks in this form, he can't fail.

Man of the match: We can go on about Steyn, but again, this was a win built on hard work and physicality, with the epitome of the winning style being Juan Smith. An immense display.

Moment of the match: Not many to choose from, but for aesthetics, we might go for Isaac Ross' try - one of very few open bits of play in the game.

Villain of the match: Nothing on the field, but how about the marketeers who continue to saturate the market with so many fixtues that some 8,000 empty seats could be witnessed at Absa Stadium? How can a Test match of this prestige not be a sell-out? Because there's always the next one around the corner, that's why...

The scorers:

For South Africa:

Tries: M Steyn

Cons: M Steyn

Pens: M Steyn 8

For New Zealand:

Tries: Ross

Cons: Donald

Pens: Donald 3, McAlister

Yellow cards: Pietersen (South Africa, 29, high tackle), Ross (New Zealand, 30, deliberate infringement), Botha (South Africa, 50, deliberate infringement)

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Wynand Olivier.

New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Afoa, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Cory Jane.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), Tim Hayes (Wales)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

By Danny Stephens

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
Friday , December 5
Brive vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Rovigo18:30
Newcastle vs Stade Francais20:00
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath 25 - 6 HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Report
Munster 21 - 20 UlsterMunster vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath933
2Northampton830
3Exeter828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821