Johannesburg - All Black coach Steve Hansen has suggested that the South African media and public should get off Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s back following Saturday night’s epic Rugby Championship finale at Ellis Park.
The supersport.com website reports that the Boks held the advantage for most of the way before falling behind 11 minutes from the end, only to strike back with a long range pressure penalty from Patrick Lambie, who kicked the ball all of 55 metres to clinch a narrow but important 27-25 win for the hosts. Although it was close, the All Black coach had enough sportsmanship afterwards to admit that the Boks were the better team.
“I am proud of the way we came back and the guys played really well to give us a chance after we had been under so much pressure in the early part of the game, but in the end you have to congratulate the Boks for getting over the line, and I think this was a match where the right team won,” said Hansen.
“We didn’t start as well as we would have liked, and had no momentum in the first half. We went down on the scoreboard, and going behind against the Boks on their home ground makes it really difficult for you. We showed great composure and belief in coming back, and our defence was magnificent, but in the end the Boks were too good for us.
“The Boks are a good team, and they’re playing great rugby at present, so I think it is time for you guys (the SA media) to get off Heyneke’s back. Our ball from set piece wasn’t great quality, and we coughed up the ball too often, which gave them opportunities, and we didn’t build pressure because we didn’t hold onto the ball. In the end it came down to a 55 metre penalty, and full credit to Lambie for kicking it under enormous pressure.”
All Black skipper Richie McCaw said his team was hurting after the defeat, which was as it should be.
“We coughed up too much ball and you can’t afford to do that against the Boks. The momentum goes against you when that happens, and there were little things today that we expect to get right undr pressure that we got wrong,” said McCaw.
“The Boks put us under a lot of pressure. Duane Vermeulen has played two phenomenal games against us this year. There isn’t much between these two teams, and most of the players will be around in 12 months time for the World Cup. But that is still some way off. Right now we are hurting. I would think there was something wrong if we just accepted that we had to lose sometime and move on.
“Maybe it will be a good thing if it means we intensify the focus on the areas where we went wrong tonight. If we just said it was our turn to lose that wouldn’t be good. That is not how the All Blacks are.”
Assistant coach Ian Foster acknowledged the changes that have been made to the Bok game over the past year.
“The Boks played with much more width than they have before, and we gave them opportunities by turning over possession, which would have enabled them to build confidence,” said Foster.