All Blacks too strong for Springboks
November 8, 2003
Keven Mealamu reaches out to score
© Getty Images
New Zealand became the first side to book a World Cup semi-final berth with a hard fought 29-9 victory over South Africa at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. It was a deserved victory for John Mitchell's side who dominated the Springboks throughout the clash and now they await the winner of Australia's clash with Scotland in the last four.
In the end tries from Leon MacDonald, Keven Mealamu and Joe Rokocoko were enough to see off a resolute but ordinary South African performance. The All Blacks totally dominated the first half of their World Cup quarter-final with South Africa but only lead for all their endeavour.
John Mitchell's side threatened to run away with this game but despite all the domination in possession and territory their usual clinical finishing touch evaded them. A stout New Zealand defence offered little hope to the Springboks and they were forced scramble in defence time after time as the All Blacks cut the line at will.
Leon MacDonald opened the scoring with a penalty which was soon cancelled out by Derick Hougaard. The floodgates looked ready to burst when Carlos Spencer broke the line to put MacDonald in for the opening try and the flyhalf added the extras.
Spencer tried and failed with two drop goals midway through the half as the All Blacks failed to convert their dominance but they did stretch their lead through a MacDonald penalty just after the half hour.
The Boks rallied late in the half but they got no more than another penalty from the boot of Hougaard but they at least remained in touch with 40 to go. It was much the same story after the break with New Zealand continuing to press and limit the opportunites for South Africa.
Aaron Mauger stretched their advantage with by persisting with the drop goal tactic, slotting from close range. But South Africa reamined in touch through the boot of Hougaard as he slotted his third of the night. However there was no let off for Rudolf Straeuli's side and it was only some great defence that kept them in the game.
Their defence was broken again on the hour by hooker Mealamu. He broke some tired tackles from Danie Rossouw and Victor Matfield to surge into the and cross for the five pointer but the conversion went awry.
Another penalty from MacDonald all but ended the Springboks' hopes before Rokocoko got on the end of a sweeping move to touch down in the corner and wrap the game up. The last ten minutes was notable for not only a sublime no-look pass from Spencer but also the end of Springbok veteran Joost van der Westhuizen's illustrious international career as he was withdrawn from the action.
New Zealand will head to Sydney in good spirits but for South Africa it is a plane home.
New Zealand 29 Try: MacDonald, Mealamu, Rokocoko Con: Spencer Pen: MacDonald (3) DG: Mauger
South Africa 9 Pen: Hougaard (3)
Referee: T. Spreadbury (Eng) Venue: Telstra Dome, Melbourne