World champions South Africa held off a second-half rally from New Zealand to win their Tri-Nations opener 28-19 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The All Blacks were trailing 17-3 early in the second half and got within four points before the Springboks sealed victory when Jaque Fourie went over eight minutes from time. All Blacks took the lead through Stephen Donald’s early penalty, but South Africa hit back with 17 points without answer. Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar kicked penalties before the latter went over for the first try. Pienaar missed the conversion and carrying a slight injury passed the kicking duties back to Steyn who made a penalty to put them 14-3 up. Morne Steyn took over the kicking in the second half and he was successful with his first attempt to make it 17-3. The All Blacks then burst into action as Conrad Smith ran through for a superb try which was converted by Donald who then landed a penalty. Steyne and Donald shared penalties before Piri Weepu’s wayward pass was recovered by the Springboks and Fourie went over to punish the error. The conversion was missed to complete a day of wayward kicking by the home side, but after a penalty by Donald, Steyn made no mistake the next time, with his kick three minutes from time finally ending the All Black challenge. South Africa go into the Tri-Nations off the back of a thrilling 2-1 series victory over the British and Irish Lions.