Skipper’s 100th cap a grim memory

2010-08-23 00:00

IT happened in a flash, but Springbok captain John Smit’s dream turned into a nightmare as the All Blacks scored two tries in three minutes to turn a five-point deficit into a 29-22 Tri-Nations win in Soweto on Saturday evening.

A massive crowd of over 90 000 were in the Calabash to see the Springboks turn their season around against the old enemy and celebrate Smit’s 100th Test. And, for 77 minutes, it seemed they would have their wish.

But the tiring Boks could not finish what they had started, and the All Blacks, who refused to lie down, scored 12 points in a late rush for victory.

The All Blacks were perhaps fortunate to score the first of the two tries (to level the scores) with a forward pass in the build-up and then a favourable TMO call as captain Richie McCaw somehow squeezed in at the corner.

But, with the scores locked at 22-22 in the 79th minute, the attacking Boks lost the ball at the breakdown, Smit missed a tackle on All Black centre Ma’a Nonu and replacement Israel Dagg scored the winning try.

Smit, battered and bleeding, was devastated and so was his wife Roxy, who was openly sobbing while clutching their bewildered young children in the grandstand.

The Bok captain was quick to accept responsibility and told the media he would be haunted by the missed tackle and the defeat “for a very long time.

“I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed to lose a game,” an emotional Smit said. “To miss the tackle that cost us the game in my 100th Test is bad.”

Of course, a world-class attacking centre like Nonu would expect to beat a burly front-row forward in a one-on-one challenge in midfield, but Smit was in no mood for excuses.

“We controlled the game well in the first half, but weren’t accurate enough in the second when we made too many errors like missing touch and giving away a few penalties,” he added. “When we lost control of our own game, we lost the match.”

Bok coach Peter de Villiers refused to echo Smit’s sentiments and was positive in his reaction to the defeat.

“John is taking this way too personally. What I saw was that we can beat any team on any given day. But well done to the All Blacks, they are deserved winners of the Tri-Nations and they have played a very entertaining style of rugby.”

While visiting teams generally battle to play at altitude, the All Blacks finished far stronger than the Boks. All Black coach Graham Henry paid tribute to the fitness levels of his players.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than that. To play in front of that crowd in this stadium is very special and this is a very special win for the All Blacks.”

All Black captain Richie McCaw agreed and said that signs that the Boks were tiring at half-time had encouraged his players.

See also page 18.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.