steyn ahead of The pack

MORNE Steyn was hailed as a "diamond" yesterday after his last-second penalty kick handed the Springboks a dramatic 28-25 second Test win over the British and Irish Lions.

MORNE Steyn was hailed as a "diamond" yesterday after his last-second penalty kick handed the Springboks a dramatic 28-25 second Test win over the British and Irish Lions.

The result on Saturday also gave the reigning world champions an unassailable 2-0 series lead with the third and final Test to come this weekend at Ellis Park.

"I just went back to the basics. When I struck it, I knew it was over," Blue Bulls flyhalf Steyn, in just his second Test appearance, said of the winning kick at the final whistle at his home ground of Loftus Versfeld.

Former Bulls and Leicester coach Heyneke Meyer, writing in his Sunday Times column said: "Morne Steyn did brilliantly when he came on. His up-and-unders were perfectly weighted and he showed such character with that last kick. His character is like a piece of charcoal - pressure turns him into a diamond.

"As soon as the penalty was given I knew he would get it, and the kick out of the corner was even better."

Steyn made his Springbok debut from the bench in the first Test in Durban, which was won 26-21 by the home side, producing a remarkable try-saving tackle on winger Ugo Monye, dislodging the ball as the Englishman crashed over the whitewash.

He came on in the 61st minute of the bone-crunching match at Loftus, with the Lions 18-9 ahead, and kicked a vital touchline conversion and two penalties, including that 53m effort at the final whistle to seal the win.

But Steyn is not an unknown quantity, having top scored for the Blue Bulls in the recent Super 14 competition with 191 points, a factor not lost on Bok captain John Smit.

"That was a really big kick," said Smit. "At times like those, I'm glad I only have to scrum and don't take those kicks. "Hats off to Morne Steyn - to do that in only his second Test was massive. I was also glad he took it, after doing the damage in the Vodacom Super 14."

The official SA Rugby website, sarugby.co.za, headlined with "Morne, Boks man of the moment."

And the Blue Bulls, who play out of Loftus, added that they would "like to use this opportunity to congratulate Peter de Villiers and his Springboks on their marvelous series victory over the British and Irish Lions".

"To clinch the second Test match and with it the series after trailing at the break says a lot about the team's character as well as their fighting spirit, and this match will be in the annals of SA Rugby forever," the team said. - Sapa

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