Great Springbok Tries: Danie Gerber vs the All Blacks
(Written by Lucas in 2003 for Amabokke)
Great Springbok Tries: Danie Gerber vs. the All Blacks, Ellis Park 15 August 1992
The visit of Sean Fitzpatrick’s sixth All Blacks in South Africa was the direct result of monumental events in the calamitous year of 1992. After many years of sporting isolation Springbok supporters welcomed their fiercest foes to Ellis Park for a once off test.
Doc Craven, past his 80th year, wrote in the match programme, ‘after the long and trying time we suffered, we are now meeting the might of New Zealand. It is such an important encounter that winning or losing is less important than the encounter itself.’
The All Blacks was a powerful and experienced side with legendary players like Zinzan Brooke, Michael Jones, Grant Fox and John Kirwan in their midst. After excellent preparations against provincial teams, notably a superb victory over Currie Cup champions-elect Natal, they were strong favourites to beat the inexperienced Springboks.
The Springboks was captained by Naas Botha, the legendary rugby genius nearing the end of an illustrious career and included one of world rugby’s greatest centres of all time - the mercurial Danie Gerber. Many rugby supporters selected Gerber for their all time World XV including one of the game’s legendary commentators, Bill McLaren. Strong, fast and elusive, Gerber was a prodigious try-scorer for the Springboks.
The Springboks struggled in the first half with lifting in the lineouts (not allowed at the time) and playing the ball on the ground but contained the All Blacks for 30 minutes. Zinzan Brooke scored the first try through a quick tap penalty near the Springbok line, a Botha penalty followed with a near Gerber try and the score was 10-3 to the All Blacks when the players took naartjies.
In the second half the Springboks shed their conservative playing style and the willing backs sparkled with more ball but two try-scoring opportunities went begging. The All Blacks, predictably moved up a gear and after a scintillating break from Frank Bunce, Kirwan scored a magnificent try to extend the lead, 17-3.
The Springboks threw caution to the wind and with wonderful recycling worked the ball to whom else but Gerber? With his powerful hips the Springbok try scoring record holder crashed through the defence for a wonderful try. The game livened and the All Blacks replied with a brilliant try through slick handling and great pace from John Timu. With 20 minutes left the score was 27-10.
It looked all over for the Springboks however with great “gees” the fight back begun and relentless attacks stretched the All Black defence. James Small was stopped short on occasion but Pieter Muller managed to crash over for his first test try. It was not over yet, brimming with confidence the Springboks executed a wonderful flowing movement and again Gerber, “the Darling of Despatch’ shed the years to showcase his silky skills when he dummied his way past the New Zealand three-quarter line for his second try. All Blacks 27 Springboks 24.
The deficit proved too much and even with several minutes of overtime the Springboks could not win the match. The All Blacks may have become complacent but the Springboks comeback again showed why this rivalry is regarded as the greatest in rugby.