Steyn saves face

STAND-OFF Morne Steyn contributed all of his team’s points as South Africa beat New Zealand 18-5 in the Tri-Nations.

Steyn, 27, succeeded with five penalties and a drop-goal as the Springboks held on for a victory that ensured they avoided a Tri-Nations whitewash after they had lost their first three matches in this year’s tournament.

Nevertheless, South Africa remain bottom of the table, with five points, while New Zealand are level on nine points with Australia, which means the Test between the All Blacks and the Wallabies in Brisbane next Saturday will decide the outcome of the tournament.

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South Africa, despite conceding the only try of the match, based their game on Steyn’s boot, a heroic defensive effort and a powerful pack of forwards, as they effectively stymied the All Blacks’ attempts to play an expansive game.

New Zealand, missing a host of senior players who had been rested for the match, including captain Richie McCaw and influential stand-off Dan Carter, dominated possession and territory in the first half.

But Steyn fed off mistakes by his opponents to kick three long-range penalties before the Springboks’ first visit to New Zealand’s 22-metre area, in the 27th minute, brought the pivot, his fourth penalty of the Test.

Steyn then brought the majority of the 45,478-strong crowd to their feet with a close-range drop-goal as the home team roared into a 15-0 lead.

The All Blacks finally breached their opponents’ defence with five minutes left in the half, when left wing Hosea Gear took an inside pass from centre Sonny Bill Williams before off-loading to outside centre Richard Kahui, who went over for an unconverted try under a pile of bodies as South Africa went to the break holding a 15-5 lead.

The second half settled into a midfield struggle with the only points coming courtesy of a Steyn penalty in the 60th minute.

Scorers: South Africa: Pens: Steyn 5. Drop goal: Steyn. New Zealand: Try: Kahui.

South Africa: Lambie, Pietersen, Fourie, de Villiers, Habana, M Steyn, du Preez, Steenkamp, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, Botha, Matfield, Brussow, Alberts, Spies. Subs: Smit, Mtawarira, van der Linde, Rossouw, Johnson, Hougaard, James.

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New Zealand: Dagg, Toeava, Kahui, S. Williams, Gear, Slade, Cowan, Woodcock, Mealamu, Afoa, Whitelock, A. Williams, Kaino, Thomson, Messam. Subs: Hore, B Franks, Hoeata, Vito, Ellis, Weepu, Jane.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland). Att: 45,478