Decisive Springboks penalty was fair, says Hansen

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said that the late penalty awarded to South Africa which cost his team a 22-match unbeaten record was a fair decision.

Replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie potted the monster 55-metre shot at goal to give the Springboks a dramatic 27-25 Rugby Championship triumph in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Liam Messam high tackled fellow replacement flanker Schalk Burger and after studying the incident on the Ellis Park big screen, English referee Wayne Barnes awarded the penalty.

Lambie, who had come on for outstanding two-try playmaker Handre Pollard, was at the edge of his goal-kicking range.

But he told skipper and centre Jean de Villiers he was confident and as the ball sailed between the posts, a sell-out 62,000 crowd erupted.

“I have no problem with the penalty because Liam made contact with the head,” said Hansen following only his second loss in 37 Tests since replacing Graham Henry after New Zealand won the 2011 World Cup.

The other reverse was a 38-21 drubbing from England at Twickenham almost two years ago.

“We have got no excuses,” admitted Hansen. “We were beaten today by a team who played better than us by a little bit.”

All Blacks flanker and skipper Richie McCaw, making a record 134th appearance for his country, had no complaints either.

“It was a pretty tough old first half for us, but we kept believing and gave ourselves a chance of winning.

“There was not much in it at the end and I am hugely proud of the boys although it is still disappointing to lose.”

South Africa led by 11 points during the second half before tries from right-wing Ben Smith and replacement hooker Dane Coles snatched a one-point advantage for New Zealand.

But Lambie showed no signs of nerves as he struck the crucial penalty and gave coach Heyneke Meyer his first win in six attempts against the All Blacks.

“We are relieved that this is done now. The win was due. We appreciate the compliments the All Blacks gave us afterwards,” said Meyer.

The coach praised the crowd at a ground where the Springboks edged the All Blacks after extra time to lift the 1995 World Cup.

“We got unbelievable support this evening. We sensed how much South Africans were behind us as we drove to the ground.

“The singing of the national anthem was awesome. It was an unbelievable Test.

“We played some good rugby this year and at times in this match as well. We had chances to win in Wellington, and today we took those chances.”

Meyer singled out No. 8 and official man-of-the-match Duane Vermeulen, who was declared fit to play only after the pre-match warm-up.

“Duane is an incredible warrior. He was not sure if he could play after a run yesterday (Friday) so we decided to wait. I asked him for 80 minutes and I got that.”

Pollard was another to shine, scoring two tries and kicking three conversions and a penalty before giving way to Lambie.

New Zealand sealed a third consecutive Championship title last weekend, South Africa finished second, Australia third and Argentina last.