All Blacks beat 'Boks 21-11

by Staff Writer

Dropped scrum-half Aaron Smith was the hero on Saturday for New Zealand, moving off the bench to score a game-changing solo try as the All Blacks defeated South Africa 21-11 in The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.

The win in Dunedin kept the hosts unbeaten after four matches while the injury-hit Springboks slumped to one win, a draw and two losses.

Smith, who had been dropped to the bench for breaking team curfew, was introduced for the second half with the All Blacks holding a slender 5-3 lead.

Midway through the half, with the scores locked at 8-8, he snapped the deadlock with a brilliant solo try when he darted around the side of a ruck and scampered 30 metres to the line.

The All Blacks scored two tries, the other to Israel Dagg, while Aaron Cruden kicked three penalties and a conversion.

South Africa's points came from an exceptional try to Bryan Habana and penalties to Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen.

The win extended the All Blacks' unbeaten run to 14 games, four short of the world record 18 held by Lithuania.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Smith's all-round performance was the response he expected from Smith.

"He really had only one response he could deliver to be satisfied, and that was to come out and play well, and he certainly did that. He scored a great try and he came out and made a difference."

The coach wasn't happy with the way the All Blacks started the game, when the South African forwards had control.

"It wasn't the complete performance obviously, but that was a torrid Test match and we had an opposition in the Springboks who were desperate, played with a lot of commitment and physicality."

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said his side had the right plan but did not have the execution.

"We put them under a lot of pressure in the first half especially when it was still 5-3, but you have to convert that pressure into points," he said.

"That's the difference between the sides. Whenever they put pressure on us or got an opportunity, they got points and we didn't."

In the first half the Springboks forwards kept them within striking range but kickers Morne and Frans Steyn were woefully off target, being successful with only one of six shots at goal.

When the visitors resorted to the boot early in the second half, a piece of individual brilliance by Habana produced an immediate try.

The right wing scoring machine charged straight through Cruden, then gathered in his own chip-kick over Richie McCaw's head to score in the corner.

It put South Africa ahead 8-3 with Morne Steyn again off target with the conversion attempt.

While the All Blacks were counting their blessings at the inaccuracy of the Springbok kickers, they were also ruing the Springboks' discipline.

It was not until the 51st minute that Cruden had his first penalty shot at goal and was successful from 30 metres to level the score at 8-8.

Smith then produced his magical try, which Cruden converted to put the All Blacks out to a 15-8 lead.

South Africa narrowed the gap to 15-11 when replacement fly-half Goosen landed a penalty for his first international points, before Cruden kicked two more penalties for the All Blacks.

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