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By unknown | Jul 27, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

NEW ZEALAND coach Graham Henry says the Springboks deserve to occupy the top place in the rugby world rankings.

NEW ZEALAND coach Graham Henry says the Springboks deserve to occupy the top place in the rugby world rankings.

"This is the best Bok side we've played against and they've developed into a very fine team. They deserve a lot of credit and they deserve to be number one," said Henry, whose side was beaten 28-19 in the Tri-Nations opener in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Jaque Fourie raced down the right touchline to score a 72nd minute try to clinch the win, while Morné Steyn completed the scoring with an angled penalty from halfway late in the match.

The win enabled the Springboks to reclaim top place in the world rankings from the All Blacks. South Africa also defeated the British Lions 2-1 earlier in the season.

Flyhalf Ruan Pienaar scored a 26th-minute try and kicked a penalty and fullback Francois Steyn added two penalties to give the Boks a 14-3 half-time lead.

South Africa could have been out of sight at the break but for poor goal-kicking, with Pienaar missing four penalty attempts.

Coach Peter de Villiers replaced him at half-time with Steyn, who immediately kicked a penalty and added another in the 57th minute.

A Stephen Donald penalty was all New Zealand had to show for their first-half effort, but they quickly struck back after the break, closing the gap to 17-13 after centre Conrad Smith sped through for a try in the 48th minute and Donald added the conversion and a penalty.

The All Blacks flyhalf enjoyed a solid day with the boot, kicking two more second-half penalties.

Springbok vice-captain Victor Matfield dominated the lineouts, which enabled his team to build a solid foundation.

"I was very happy that we were able to put them under pressure there, we drove well from the lineouts and that put us on the front foot," he said.

"It's nice to win, but it's just the first game and if we don't win the Tri-nations it means nothing. We play to win trophies so we need to do this week in, week out."

Henry said: "There are no excuses. We were beaten by the better side on the day. We had our opportunities but we did not take them. We made too many errors." - Reuters


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