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  Saturday, 25 August, 2001, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
All Blacks face Sydney decider
Two tries proved the difference between the sides
Two tries proved the difference between the sides
New Zealand 26-15 South Africa

New Zealand set up a winner-takes-all encounter against Australia after a hard fought victory over the Springboks in Auckland.

Two tries proved the difference for the home side - the first from Pita Alatini and the second courtesy of referee Peter Marshall midway through the second period.

Four penalties and two successful conversions from the boot of Andrew Mehrtens sealed the win, which takes the Kiwis to the top of the Tri-Nations table.

The All Blacks started positively in the heavy Auckland rain, controlling possession and driving well upfield.

Indeed, it was no surprise when they went ahead in just the ninth minute when Alatini finished off a superb move, after a half break from Byron Kelleher.

Mehrtens added the extras to give the Kiwis a dream start.

But the Springboks hit back immediately when Braam Van Straaten converted his first kick of the game, after Anton Oliver was penalised for a late tackle.

As the weather closed in, both sides began to use the long kick in an attempt to gain field position.

And it quickly worked well for the home side when Andre Venter failed to hold a Mehrtens bomb.

Joost van der Westhuizen was caught offside in front of the posts, allowing the Kiwi stand-off to add an easy three points.

Van Straaten and Mehrtens then again swapped penalties before both captains were warned by the referee after a brief slurry of punches near the Springbok line.

Mark Cooksley then replaced Norm Maxwell who left the field with a blood wound, but not before he had handed Van Straaten a successful third penalty attempt for climbing in the line-out.

Mehrtens in control

Mehrtens raised his points tally to 11 moments after the break as the Kiwis again started well.

In dreadful conditions both sides attempted to run with the ball, but understandable handling errors caused numerous turnovers.

Mehrtens extended the All Blacks' lead to 10 points on 53 minutes when he clipped over a superb 50-yard penalty, before adding his second conversion after Kempson's early tackle prompted Peter Marshall to award a crucial - and deserved - penalty try.

The scoreline reflected New Zealand's dominance both in terms of possession and territory. Nevertheless, at 26-9 down, Van Straaten gave the visitors some relief after Troy Flavell was penalised for punching.

Seconds later, the Springbok fly-half added his fifth of the evening to reduce the deficit to 26-15.

The penalty seemed to spur the visitors into an impressive last-ditch effort, but the New Zealand defence held firm to set up what is sure to be a huge showdown against Australia in Sydney next weekend.

Teams:

New Zealand: MacDonald, Wilson, Umaga, Alatini, Lomu, Mehrtens, Kelleher, Hoeft, Oliver, Somerville, Maxwell, Jack, Flavell, Randell, Cribb.
Replacements: Hammett, Hayman, Cooksley, Holah, Marshall, T. Brown, Howlett.

South Africa: Jantjes, Paulse, Snyman, van Straaten, Hall, James, van der Westhuizen, Kempson, van Biljon, Visagie, Matfield, Andrews, Vos, A. Venter, Skinstad.
Replacements: Smit, Le Roux, van den Berg, van Niekerk, de Kock, Kayser, Delport.

Referee: Peter Marshall (Australia)


Australia's triumph

Match results

Giffin's view

Background

RESULTS & FIXTURES

CLICKABLE GUIDE

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