James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Revenge sweet for rampant All Blacks

Jimmy Cowan was head-butted by South Africa's Bakkies Botha, something missed by the referee. Photo / NZPA
Jimmy Cowan was head-butted by South Africa's Bakkies Botha, something missed by the referee. Photo / NZPA

It was 2010 and the All Blacks returned to the safety of their Eden Park fortress still hurting from the memory of what had been a horrific previous year.

The Springboks came to New Zealand as Tri-Nations champions - their competition victory in 2009 based on a kick and chase game that worked well. Their series win also included their last victory on these shores - at Hamilton, where they beat the All Blacks 32-29.

For the All Blacks it was a chance to right the wrongs of losing three straight matches to their greatest rugby rival.

South Africa were expected to dominate through their forward pack but were humbled by the All Blacks up front and with tries to Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Kieran Read and Tony Woodcock in a 32-12 drubbing.

An incident in the first 90 seconds involving All Black halfback Jimmy Cowan and Springbok enforcer Bakkies Botha would see the latter banned from the game for nine weeks.

The giant South African lock was held back by Cowan after charging his kick down at a ruck near halfway but got his own back shortly after when he flattened the All Black halfback with a head-butt just seconds after he made a pass.

The act was missed by Irish referee Alan Lewis but replayed several times on the giant screen to a cacophony of boos from the 48,000-strong crowd and a gloating Cowan.

Botha escaped any on-field censure for the head-butt but was sin-binned later in the match for a professional foul.

The Springboks' points were scored by five-eighths Morne Steyn, who passed 200 points in test rugby with four penalty goals. But their usually dominant figures - lock Victor Matfield, hooker Smit, and No8 Pierre Spies - were rendered ineffective by a rampant All Black side.

"They played a very quick game and you can't tackle all night and expect to win," Springbok captain John Smit said after the match.

- NZ Herald

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