CBA fifth in distance medley at Penn Relays BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Amanda Harmata followed up her second-place finish at the Penn Relays with a pair of wins at Saturday’s Lion Invitational hosted by Middletown North. The Rocket senior started her week Thursday with a second-place finish in the javelin at the prestigious Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Third in 2003, Harmata improved by one position on Thursday with a 146-5. Ruby Radocaj of Willamsport, Pa., won in a meet record 154-3. Two days after silver at the Penn Relays, Harmata won two gold medals at the Lion Invitational. She won the javelin with a 151-8 (a personal best) and the shot put at 40-0 1/2. She contested all three throwing events, taking third in the discus at 110-4. Back at Penn on Thursday, Middletown South’s Julianne Toto medaled in the girls’ pole vault, clearing 10-11 3/4. Teammate Laura Flath tied for seventh (10-6). The Eagles’ Jamie Liberti was 15th in the girls mile (5:09.38). On Friday, Christian Brothers Academy took fifth at the High School Boys’ Championship of America Distance Medley in 10:17.35. Will Melochik anchored the Colts home with a 4:18.4 1,600-meter leg. Brett Fiorvanti started the Colts off with a 3:13.5 opening 1,200-meter leg. Chris Vuono followed with the second-fasted 400 leg, a 48.1. Peter Glackin turned in a 1:57.4 800 and then Melofchik closed it out. Prio to the DM, the Colts 4×800 team just missed out on qualifying for the final. They were fourth in their heat (7:56.28) and their time was the 13th best. The 12 fastest times from the heats qualified for the final, which was held Saturday. It was a big day for the locals in Middletown at the Lion Invitational, led by Matawan’s Chris Keller, who won the shot put with a throw of 56-8 1/4, Monmouth Regional’s Barry Bostick was a double-winner. He won the 110-meter high hurdles (14.5) and the 400 intermediate hurdles (57.0). Mater Dei’s Jay McDevitt captured the 1,600 meters in 4:33.6 and Matawan’s Tom Walsh was first in the 3,200 (9:35). Middletown South’s Chris Sole won the high jump (6-4). Toto upped her personal best in pole vault to 11-6 in finishing first. Teammate Flath was second (10-6). Teammate Ariana LaFerlita was victorious in the high jump at 5-2 for the Eagles. Back on the track, Middletown North’s Caitlin Browne won the 800 meters (2:20.5). Marlboro and Long Branch, with 31 points, shared the boys team championship with Matawan (28) just behind in third. On the girls side, Southern (40) was first, followed by Neptune (29) and Ocean (27). Raritan was the top local finisher in fifth (25). Saturday, it’s the Monmouth Invitational at Monmouth Regional and the annual Long Branch Relays. These meets will be the final tests for the track and field athletes before the Monmouth County Championship on May 5-6 at Monmouth Regional. Brick Township High School is hosting the Shore Conference Championships May 14-15.
BY VIN RAPOLLA Staff Writer BY VIN RAPOLLAStaff Writer PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Above, former Red Bank Regional and Brookdale star Billy Gilligan hoists up a foul shot during a JSBL game on July 7 in Belmar. At left, Stern’s E.G. Weldon drives past USB Financial’s Kyle Laird on his way to the basket. For basketball gym rats, the Jersey Shore Basketball League (JSBL) provides summer relief. Whether its high school and college players looking to improve their games, or former college stars looking to play at the next level, the JSBL provides some of the best basketball you’ll see anywhere in the country during the summer. National Basketball Association players looking to remain sharp have participated in the league, which plays its games in the McCann Activities and Athletics Center at St. Rose High School, Belmar. Games are played at 7:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. One of the JSBL veterans is Billy Gilligan, a former Red Bank Regional star, who most recently played professionally in England and Ireland. After a year away, he is looking to play professionally again. “I’m looking to play abroad,” he said. “This is an opportunity to play all summer long, get in good shape against good competition. “You have to be focused and come to play every night,” he added. Gilligan plays for UBS Financial and has quickly rounded into the form that helped him star at Brookdale and Stockton colleges before playing professionally in England and Ireland. He is among the league’s leading scorers and three-point shooters. Looking back, Gilligan knows the advantages of the JSBL for younger players. “It’s good for high school and college players to see what it takes to become a good player, and what you have to have to be a good player” he said. Mike DeCorso, who was the first basketball player to score 1,000 career points for Colts Neck, is looking forward to his junior year at New York University, where he plays small forward. He wants to make an even bigger impact for the Purple Violets in 2005-06, and the Jersey Shore league is just what he needs. “It’s an opportunity to play against better players than I’ll see [in college],” he said. “It’s a very competitive level and the game is more physical. “You get a good workout playing against players of this caliber,” he added. “In my first game this year, I played against Taquan Dean [Neptune], who went to the Final Four with Louisville. That is good experience.” DeCorso plays for USA Financial and this is his second year with the club. “I like all the guys, they share the ball,” he said. “It’s fun.” DeCorso noted that he is working on his foot speed this summer. One of DeCorso’s teammates is recent University of Penn graduate Tim Begley, of Freehold Township via Christian Brothers Academy, who is using the JSBL as preparation for playing professionally in Germany. The 2005 Ivy League Most Valuable Player is expecting to sign with a German club this week and begin play there next month. The one or two games he plays each week, he said, is just what he needs to get ready. Begley, a point guard, has seen the JSBL from all levels of experience. “It was a cool experience for me getting to play a couple of games in high school,” he said. “I got pushed around. “It’s completely different [from high school and college],” he added. “It’s not as structured. The players are bigger and stronger physically. It’s the best place to play if you are in college. There are a lot of really good players in the league.” Begley played in the JSBL throughout college and two years ago, his USA Financial team won the league championship. What the JSBL is, Begley pointed out, is a great teacher. “Just playing against older guys, you learn things,” he said. “As much as you think you know about the game, they have been playing it so long. You see the little tricks they do to get to the foul line.” It’s Begley now, who is teaching the high school and young college players the new tricks. For Raritan High School graduates, Qa’rraan Calhoun and Marcus Johnson, the JSBL is a chance to play together one more time before they go their separate ways to college. Calhoun is off to a prep school in Connecticut before heading to St. John’s University, while Johnson is preparing for Boston University. They play for Rod’s Tavern and together they made the Rockets a state power, capturing a Group II title and Shore Conference Tournament championship during their career together. Whether a player is from high school, college or professional, DeCorso said they all have one thing in common. “They love the game,” he said. The JSBL playoffs begin Monday and will extend through Aug. 4.
The Center for World War II Studies and Conflict Resolution at Brookdale Community College will present an in-depth look at the significant role professional baseball played during the sacrificial years of World War II. History Associate Professor Larry Hartzell, Howell, Brookdale’s resident sports historian, will address America’s national pastime on Tuesday, March 28, at two sessions. Session one will begin at noon and session two will be held at 7:30 p.m. Both will take place in the Warner Student Life Center. Parking is most convenient in lots 6, 7 and 1. Baseball played a key role on the home front and in the heartland during the trying, burdensome and sacrificial years of World War II. The sport lifted America’s spirits in a national activity. Every professional baseball season during the war aroused a new enthusiasm for the national pastime. At Brookdale, Hartzell has taught “The History of American Sports,” which investigates the origins of amateur and professional sports in America as well as their growth as cultural and corporate institutions. He has taught Introductory American, Civil War and sports history courses at Brookdale since 1993. A former high school athlete, Hartzell has been a lifelong sports fan, attending Cincinnati Reds and University of Dayton baseball and basketball games from an early age. He is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Virginia. Though his postgraduate training was in Southern history, he was encouraged to pursue his interest in sports as well. The event code is XWWTS 132 and the fee is $10 for adults, $5 for students. Groups are most welcome. To register, call (732) 224-2315.
Beginner and advanced bicycle riders are welcome to race through the open fields and woodlands of Tatum Park, Holland Road, Middletown, on Aug. 8 when the Monmouth County Park System hosts its annual Woods Hollow Classic Mountain Bike Race. Intermediate/advanced racers may join the Sport Class for a more rigorous 11.25-mile race starting at 8 a.m., while first-time/occasional cyclists can compete in the Beginner Class, a 7.5-mile race starting at 9:45 a.m. Beginners are encouraged to ride the course ahead of time. The cost is $20 for advance registration (by July 31). Race-day registration ($25 fee) will be accepted from 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. for the Sport Class race and from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. for the Beginner Class race. Awards will be presented following the race. An ANSI-, ATSM- or Snell-approved bike helmet is mandatory. Racers are responsible for having their bicycles inspected for safety prior to race day. Read the complete race rules on the application, available at www.monmouthcountyparks. com; click Activities, then Events and Races; or call 732-542- 1642, ext. 23 or ext. 26, for more information. Ryan McCormick, 18, a golfer from Middletown, will travel to Ardmore, Okla., for the 41st Trusted Choice Big I National Championship, based on his showing in last year’s national tournament in Pinehurst where he shot a 74, 74, 73, 74 for a 295 total. The Trusted Choice Big I Junior Classic (formerly IIAJC) began in 1969 and has grown to become one of the most highly anticipated junior golfing events in the country. Through the years, several of today’s current PGA stars played in the event as youngsters, including Craig Stadler, Fuzzy Zoeller, Casey Martin, David Duval, Hale Irwin, Phil Michelson, Justin Leonard, Bobby Clampett, Cristie Kerr, Grace Park, and Bob Tway. Bill Andrade and Tiger Woods, are also two-time national champions. The Garden State Soccer League seeks players who are over age 38. Tryouts will be held Aug. 2 for individuals. Teams are also sought. The league was established in the early 1980s. Contact Sergio at [email protected] verizon.net or at 732-673-9371.
BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer The Keyport American Legion Post 23 team has thus far compiled a 3-4-2 mark in the Monmouth County American Legion League. Uncooperative weather has cost the team, which includes players from Matawan Regional High School, a few games as well. Nevertheless, coach John Kaye, who coaches the Matawan High School varsity baseball team, said his players are gaining valuable experience while also being able to work on improving their individual skills. “Many of these players will be on our varsity team next spring so it’s a good opportunity for them to play together and get to know each other,” Kaye said. Five key varsity players are on the squad, including seniors Paul Spadiccini, a first baseman/outfielder who is batting more than .300, and D.J. Holmes, a pitcher/infielder. The other three are juniors, outfielder Zeke Vega, catcher Christian Knox and pitcher/infielder Alan Geyer. All three are batting above the .300 mark and Knox and Geyer have been the team’s top RBI producers. Other members of the Matawan team include seniors Jeremy Avilles, an outfielder, and pitchers Anthony Provenzano and Sean Sery, as well as junior second baseman Ken Santimauro, outfielder Pat O’Brien and lefthanded pitcher Vinny Manzella. Three sophomores are also playing regularly, first baseman John Affriol, versatile Casey Donahue and pitcher Nick Fullop. Fullop has been solid on the hill, beating Wall, 3-2, and holding CBA to three runs in a tie. Kaye noted that pitching is his team’s strength. Geyer tossed a shutout against Shore Regional, and Manzella hurled his team past Middletown South. “Our pitching and defense have been very good,” said Kaye. “Those are very good signs because you really don’t want to be giving teams extra outs or giving away runs.” The Matawan team, sponsored by American Legion Post 23 in Keyport, usually plays on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Kaye has set up a system where his entire staff participates. Kaye and Bob Carnovsky handle the bench on Mondays, with Dave Deegan and Jim Scheuing taking over on Wednesdays and Rich Vitaliano handling the Friday games. “It’s important that the players hear a different voice as most of them have been hearing from me since March,” Kaye said. “This gives our other coaches an opportunity to do more with them, plus the players can also look at things from another perspective— and it’s a great way to keep everyone involved.” Kaye added that the team has five games remaining and he is hoping to finish at .500 or better. “We certainly are playing to win, but we’re also all about developing and improving our players, he said.
When the season began, Monmouth University men’s basketball head coach Dave Calloway knew his team would be a bit of a work in progress in the early going. His hope was that the pace of improvement would be quick enough to generate some excitement about the program as it looked to resume its place as a force within the Northeast Conference. Based on the Hawks’ last two games, that buzz may well be on its way, as MU has posted impressive back-to-back wins to improve to 5-9 overall, and seems poised to tackle the meat of its NEC schedule. On Dec. 23, Monmouth used a 17-1 run over the final 6:12 of the game to earn a 65- 51 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Thanks to a balanced attack that saw four Hawks score in double digits, Monmouth dominated the game late and gave a glimpse of a team that is beginning to find its rhythm. Justin Sofman led the way with 18 points (including a season-high five three-pointers), while Travis Taylor registered his fifth career double-double with 14 points and a careerbest tying 11 rebounds. Will Campbell added 13 points and six boards, while James Hett scored 10 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed three rebounds. The game was close through three quarters, but with just over six minutes to play, the Hawks took over to win their final nonconference game of the year. It was a confidence-building finish for the Hawks, who went 10-for-11 from the free throw line in the second half, and were 12-of- 14 for the game (85.7 percent). Monmouth then entered Saturday night’s game with Quinnipiac looking to build on the win, and did just that, beating the Bobcats, 72-60, in front of an enthusiastic crowd in West Long Branch. Freshman Ed Waite led the way for MU, scoring 17 points, while seniorWhitney Coleman added 16, as the Hawks evened their NEC record to 1-1 on the year. Now 4-2 at home on the year, Monmouth also got strong offensive efforts from Taylor (14 points, seven rebounds) and Campbell (14 points) to pull out an important win over a good Quinnipiac squad. Early on, the teams traded momentum, as QU jumped out to a 5-0 lead before MU got a Campbell trifecta and a Waite three-point play to grab a 6-5 lead. The teams continued to trade runs throughout the first half, with Monmouth clinging to a 31-27 lead at the break following a Coleman three-pointer with just two seconds to play. Once the second half began, Monmouth increased its lead to six before a Bobcat 9-1 run tied the score at 37-37. QU then took the lead, 41-38, before the Hawks scored six straight to grab a 44-41 edge with just over 13 minutes to play. QU then tied the score at 44 before the Hawks launched the run that would decide the game. Waite scored a pair of baskets to spark the run, with Coleman adding a pair of trifectas to open up a 57-48 lead with 6:45 to play. The Hawks’ run reached 17-4 (to the delight of the home crowd), and with 5:37 to play, MU was up 61-48 with the game well in hand. QU tried to respond with a run of its own, outscoring MU 6-1 over the next two minutes, but another Coleman three-pointer (his fourth of the game) shut the door and sealed the win for the Hawks. Down the stretch, MU once again was clutch from the free-throw line to maintain its lead and secure the important win. For the game, Monmouth outshot the Bobcats, 46.3 percent (25-54) to 40 percent (22-55) from the floor and 63.6 percent (14-22) to 54.5 percent (12-22) from the free-throw line. Both teams shot 36.4 percent from long range, with the Hawks making 8-of-22 to the Bobcats’ 4- of-11. Monmouth’s defense was the key in this one, as they held the conference’s secondleading scorer, James Feldeine (18.9 points per game) to just 12 points, and junior forward Justin Rutty (15.4 ppg, sixth in the NEC, and 10.4 rebounds per game, first in the NEC) to just four points and seven rebounds. Waite, a 6-5, 225-pound former football player, deserved much of the credit for the defensive work done on Rutty. The Monmouth pressure also caused the Bobcats to commit a season-high 23 turnovers, which the Hawks turned into a 28- 12 advantage in points off turnovers. Should the Hawks continue to play teamoriented basketball on both ends of the floor, they should play their way into contention in the NEC before long. Next up for Monmouth is a Thursday night match-up with Central Connecticut State in the MAC in West Long Branch. The Blue Devils fell to 4-7 overall on the season with a 70-53 defeat to Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon, and were scheduled to take on Colgate on Monday night. CCSU is led offensively by its backcourt, which consists of 6-3 sophomore guard Robby Ptacek (13.8 ppg) and 6-0 junior Shemik Thompson (12.3). Monmouth will need to neutralize those two if it hopes to win its second straight NEC affair and cement its status as one the rapidly improving teams in what is beginning to look like a wide open conference race. Tip-off is 7 p.m. today. BY DOUG McKENZIE Staff Writer Back-to-back wins show team’s potential
Youngsters participate in one of the games hosted by the Aberdeen-Matawan Soccer Club held at Strathmore Elementary School in Aberdeen on Sept. 11. The event was held to benefit Operation Shoebox, a nonprofit that sends support, snacks and needed personal-care items to American troops deployed outside the U.S. The games were played in honor of the men and women who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. More photos at gmnews.com. ERIC SUCAR staff
St. John Vianney The St. John Vianney High School girls basketball team has already shown signs that this will be a promising season. With four wins in as many games, the veteran Lancers got off to a quick start and gathered some momentum ahead of a tough schedule.After opening the season with a 68-17 defeat of Monmouth Regional High School, St. John Vianney registered wins over Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, 58-38, and Shore Regional High School, 76-37, before Christmas. The Lancers traveled on Dec. 27 to Mount St. Dominic Academy for the school’s Holiday Festival tournament, beating Teaneck High School, 66-44, in the first game.Another Holiday Festival matchup was slated for Dec. 29 against DePaul High School, and the Lancers were also scheduled to face Gill St. Bernard’s School, a Tournament of Champions competitor last season, on Dec. 30.St. John Vianney’s veteran core has been a factor in the early success. Junior Katie Beriont and seniors Kat Egan and Lyndsay Rowe are back in the starting five, while junior Jackie Gallagher steps into a starting role after getting minutes off the bench last season. Freshman Kelly Campbell is a talented newcomer at point guard. Last season, the team finished 22-8 despite having only one returning starter. The Lancers entered this season with an experienced starting lineup prepared for a rigorous schedule.“Last year was an experience year,” said head coach Dawn Karpell. “Having some returning starters definitely gives us some good leadership this season.”The Lancers have a few underclassmen on the bench, including freshman guards Emily Uribe and Kelly Crouch, who are inexperienced but give St. John Vianney some roster depth alongside veterans such as senior forward Gina Marini.Karpell explained that her team’s experienced players are making the transition for freshmen easier. Crouch has proved to be a sharp passer and 3-point shooter,Karpell said, and Uribe has a“scorer’s mentality.” Freshman forward Gabrielle Camponegro is athletic and rebounding well early in the season. Junior Haley Scheuer also is getting minutes in the frontcourt, Karpell added.“It’s about finding that balance,” the head coach said when asked about managing a roster of both veterans and freshmen. “Some of the younger players are learning as we go, and the seniors are helping them understand it.”St. John Vianney has a traditionally difficult schedule, with A Central and nonconference opponents keeping things far from easy. In addition to division matchups against Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank Catholic High School, Holmdel High School, Manasquan High School and others, the Lancers will also play New York’s Ossining High School, Christ the King Regional High School and St. Anthony’s High School.“As it is every season, it’s going to be a very challenging schedule,” Karpell said. “The difficulty of our schedule will help give us experience. The veterans have been through it, but the younger players will become accustomed to the different styles of play that can be thrown at them.”There is some added motivation for St. John Vianney to put up good numbers within its division. The Lancers have not lost an A Central game since December 2007, winning 62 consecutive division matchups.St. John Vianney continues its season at home on Jan. 3 against Manasquan, with tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The Lancers will then travel on Jan. 5 to John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Paterson for a New Year’s tournament. BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent
By Iain RogersBarcelona congratulated themselves on Tuesday for a job well done in the transfer window, while rivals Real Madrid were dealing with the fallout from Cristiano Ronaldo’s apparent criticism of president Florentino Perez.The world’s two richest clubs by income again spent big, with Barca’s signings including Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for 81.25 million euros and Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic for around 20 million.Real lured Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez to the Spanish capital for around 80 million euros and snapped up Germany midfielder Toni Kroos for 30 million, seduced by the pair’s success at the World Cup finals in Brazil.However, while Barca are widely perceived to have improved their squad as they look to bounce back from a season without major silverware, critics have suggested European champions Real will be significantly weakened by the exit of midfielders Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria, sold to Bayern Munich and Manchester United respectively.The sense of unease was heightened on Monday when dressing-room heavyweight Cristiano Ronaldo, Real’s top scorer and current World Player of the Year, appeared to criticise Perez’s transfer policies.The construction magnate has spent hundreds of millions of euros of the club’s money on the top players, with his strategy also driven by how many shirts new recruits will help sell.Alarm bells rang at the club when they let slip a two-goal lead to crash to a 4-2 defeat at Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday, when Ronaldo was sidelined by injury.“I have a very clear opinion but I cannot always say what I think,” the Portugal forward told reporters when asked about his club’s recent transfer dealings.“If not I would be on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow and I don’t want that. But, if I was in charge, maybe I would not have done it like that.“But if the president thinks that the best thing for the team is to buy the players he bought and let others leave we have to respect and support his decisions.”Ronaldo’s comments, together with grumbling from coach Carlo Ancelotti, will be uncomfortable for Perez and stand in stark contrast to the upbeat tone of a news conference given by Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta on Tuesday.Spanish sports dailies Marca and As both splashed Ronaldo’s remarks across their front pages, while Real’s Spain contingent were quizzed about the situation when they met up with their international team mates.“Everyone has their opinion and it is respectable, I am not going to make any comment about Cristiano or any player,” centre back Sergio Ramos, one of Real’s captains, told reporters.“We belong to the club and we must respect the rules of the club,” he added. “I am not going to reveal my opinion, it’s not the time to be drawing conclusions.”Barca’s hand was forced in the market after the club were given a temporary reprieve from a transfer ban for breaching rules on the transfer of under-18 players while an appeal to football’s world governing body FIFA was ongoing.They lost the appeal and may not be allowed to buy again in the next two transfer windows but have added Suarez and Rakitic, as well as centre backs Thomas Vermaelen and Jeremy Mathieu, goalkeepers Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and fullback Douglas to their ranks.They have begun the La Liga campaign in confident fashion and are the only side to have won their opening two games as they seek to improve on last term’s second-place finish.Zubizarreta said he was delighted with the squad and predicted Barca would be a major force under new coach Luis Enrique, who has replaced the discarded Gerardo Martino.“We again have a team that is at a very high competitive level,” former Barca and Spain goalkeeper Zubizarreta told reporters. “I am very pleased and we will see how far we can go.”Champions Atletico Madrid are again expected to mount a realistic challenge after some astute business in the transfer market when they bought in the likes of Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic, France forward Antoine Griezmann and Italy winger Alessio Cerci.
By Greg StutchburyCaptain Richie McCaw scored a second-half try to help the All Blacks maintain their five-year unbeaten record in New Zealand with a tense 14-10 victory over a combative Springboks side in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.McCaw was the beneficiary of a pin-point cross-kick from Aaron Cruden that was hauled in by number eight Kieran Read who fed his skipper who dived over in the corner.Cruden slotted two penalties for the home side while Beauden Barrett added another after he replaced Cruden late in the second half to give the home side 16 points at the top of the Rugby Championship table. South Africa are on 10.“It was a hell of a battle out there tonight,” McCaw told reporters.“I think the difference in the first half, we were on the back foot a little bit when they were getting the edge at the contact area and we were forced into poor decisions and poor kicks and poor handling.“When you do that against a team like that you put yourself under pressure.“The second half was better but no means perfect.”Rookie South Africa flyhalf Handre Pollard had been seen as a gamble by coach Heyneke Meyer, but demonstrated a mature cool head far beyond his 20 years and inexperience of just three previous tests.IMPRESSIVE POLLARDPollard set up Cornal Hendricks’ first-half try with a brilliant inside pass, converted it and then slotted a long-range drop goal for the visitors who had the opportunity to win the match late on with several attacking lineouts but were thwarted.“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Springboks captain Jean de Villiers, who played his 100th test match on Saturday. “It’s a loss to a quality side and very good team.“We gave ourselves a chance but didn’t quite get there in the end.”The All Blacks have been unbeaten in New Zealand for five years – a run of 36 successive tests – last losing at home to South Africa in Hamilton on Sept. 12, 2009.The hosts had the majority of the ball and territory but were thwarted by a superb Springboks defensive effort, led by number eight Duane Vermuelen and flanker Marcel Coetzee.The All Blacks attempted to play at a high pace, forcing the Springboks to slow the game down by walking to lineouts and players to seek medical treatment at regular intervals.The visitors’ defence, however, more than demonstrated that teams who want to play rugby will still need to do the basics first by committing players in close before going wide and to hang on to the ball when inside their opponent’s territory.The All Blacks also kicked too often into open field rather than pinning the Springboks back in their own half, while their adherence to having lock Brodie Retallick feeding a prop to smash into the midfield defence became too predictable.The Springboks led 7-6 at halftime after Hendricks scored a try from Pollard’s inside pass that the International Rugby Board junior player of the year converted.The home side’s only reward was two penalties to Cruden in the first half, though he missed a third from long range after the halftime hooter had sounded.McCaw then scored in the corner after a sustained buildup that culminated in Cruden making a pinpoint cross kick to Read, who took the ball and waited for McCaw to pop up outside him and dive over.Pollard slotted a long-range drop goal in the 56th minute and the visitors then placed the All Blacks under immense pressure in the final 10 minutes but the home side managed to hold on to keep their unbeaten record at home alive.“It was pretty desperate times,” McCaw added of the final 10 minutes. “It reveals the character of your team when you have to dig deep.“They were also under pressure because they had to score so we just had to hold our nerve and keep tackling and the mistake came.”