ALBANY – Springbok head coach Allister Coetzee still managed to put on a brave face after his side sustained a record 57-0 thrashing by the All Blacks at the QBE Stadium on Saturday.
“We were just outplayed by a world-class team once again. I said it all week. All credit to the All Blacks – they were superb tonight,” was the first response the gutted coach could muster in his post-match interview.
Not only did the Boks’ bitter Rugby Championship rivals totally outplay and outsmart them, but surpassed the record 42-point winning margin at Kings Park in Durban last year in a clinical eight-try rout.
After some bright patches in the first half, it looked like the Boks were intent on consolidating on their unbeaten run heading into Saturday’s clash, but it went pear-shaped from there, as the New Zealanders scored four unanswered tries in the first 40 and their opponents were left chasing the game.
“If you look at the first three tries that they scored – a quick tap caught us napping – an intercept followed from there and then one of those cross kicks, all of a sudden you find yourself 21 points down, which is a tough ask,” said Coetzee.
Once the Kiwis had surged ahead into a 24-0 lead, they sniffed blood and they continued applying pressure, building momentum and burying the hapless Boks, who were still marginally ahead in the territorial and possession statistics.
“You come out here and you know you shouldn’t hang yourself up, but it just happens,” added Coetzee.
“We actually did well in terms of the territorial and possession stakes and it’s just that the pass didn’t go to hand at crucial stages.
“If we had scored a try or a few points in the first half, it may have been a different thing, but they were just too good for us.”
But, as always, it is what you do with the possession, not the amount you have.
Usually a hallmark of the South Africans’ game, their execution from the set-pieces was particularly poor, especially the lineouts – and they repeatedly lost that critical first-phase platform.
“Yes, our set-pieces were very poor tonight and that’s one area you should get right in Test rugby. If you don’t get it right, then there is no way you can compete. You simply cannot defend for 80 minutes,” conceded the coach.
“Unfortunately we failed to exert pressure with ball-in-hand and it was directly because of our set-pieces. Then it becomes a chase and a catch-up. Against an All Blacks team, it’s very difficult.”
So, after much hype and a six-match unbeaten streak, the Boks have landed back on earth with a massive thud and it’s back to the drawing board again as the void between themselves and the number one rugby team in the world has grown even wider.
“It was a hell of a learning curve for us and I think this young team has learned valuable lessons. We have two more Tests in South Africa and hopefully we have learned our lessons,” concluded Coetzee.
The Springboks now have to pick up the pieces and next face Australia in the central South African city of Bloemfontein on September 30, before the All Blacks travel to Cape Town in the October 7 clash at Newlands.
The Boks arrive in Johannesburg on Sunday at 5pm.
African News Agency (ANA)