Tri-Nations Rugby: All Blacks v Springboks
Tri-Nations test series
All Blacks v Springboks
Saturday, 19 August, 2000
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
INSPIRED Springbok brilliance seriously weakened New Zealand's grip on the Tri-Nations in Johannesburg this morning where after a phenomenal contest South Africa emerged victorious. In a superb match, where the lead changed six times, the All Blacks showed immense courage to fight back from a 20 point defecit to take a lead into the final quarter.
However motivated by the roar of the Ellis Park faithful and awesome individual efforts from Werner Swanepoel, Robbie Fleck, Corn Krige and Charl Marais the Boks regained the momentum required to earn the late penalties which saw them to a famous 46- 40 victory.
While they were talked up as favourites in the media, the All Blacks themselves and anybody else with the slightest notion of the Rainbow Nation's ability on the high veld expected a ferociously contested tight game.
And the so-called South African underdogs delivered a performance which should silence their critics and remind rugby followers everywhere of the power of donning the Springbok jersey and wearing it in battle against the age-old arch-rival - New Zealand. While they will be aghast at letting the game - and most likely the Tri-Nations - go the All Blacks can take a positive from the fact they contributed to a veritable feast of A-grade rugby which included nine scintillating tries.
After recovering from the shell-shock of trailing by 20 points - including an extremely popular first try scored by veteran South African favorite Chester Williams - the All Blacks battled back into the game with outstanding outside backs Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga each scoring a brace of tries.
Add those five pointers to points - including a classic dropped goal as the clock ticked down - collected by the ultra-accurate boot of All Black pivot Andrew Mehrtens and New Zealand had regained a 40-39 lead with only minutes remaining.
However rather than deflating the home team - what the All Blacks had hoped was the winning drop goal appeared to galvanise the Springboks and with the crowd roaring 'Bok, Bok, Bok' they stormed downfield.
And as if it was scripted for maximum excitement Swanepoel - capping what many observers recognised as a man of the match performance - dived over to secure a famous South African win and add another riveting chapter to the rich history of All Black- Springbok rugby rivalry.