Johannesburg - South Africa’s 27-20 defeat to the All Blacks
here on Saturday may have dented the country’s morale but New Zealand coach
Steve Hansen believes the Springboks have much to feel bullish about.
“The last two games here could have gone either way, so they
are developing a style of game that will be difficult to combat (at the World
Cup),” Hansen said on Saturday.
“They have some really excited young backs and a lot of pace
in their backline and some brutal forwards.”
South Africa accounted well for themselves in a match they dominated
for most part before - in an eerie coincidence to last week’s defeat to
Australia - a try in the 74th minute sunk the home side.
The hosts created a few scoring opportunities that could
have tipped the scales even further in their favour but they would once again
be denied by the unyielding Kiwis.
Hansen said the encounter was as good as it gets when the
two top teams in world rugby clashed.
“They should be happy, Heyneke has done a good job of
developing them over the last two to three years,” he said.
“They are the No 2 side in the world rankings and as we saw
tonight there is nothing between the top team and the second team.”
Injuries once again had an adverse effect on the Springboks
but Hansen believed it was the injury to Vincent Koch that led to an
uncontested scrum that caused the greatest momentum swing.
With 20 minutes left in the match the Boks were camping on
the All Blacks line and a man up after Sam Whitelock was sin-binned for a
This advantage was soon diminished when Koch, already on for
Jannie du Plessis, suffered a rib injury with referee Jerome Garces calling an uncontested
“Unfortunately one of their guys was injured and no-one in
the world has three tighthead props so they had to go the golden oldies scrum,”
“We were down seven men versus eight and that would have
been a tough spot to get out of so I think that was a massive turning point.”
At that point South Africa were on the cusp of scoring which
Hansen believed could have given the Springboks the edge they needed to close
out the game.
“We defended our hearts out and showed a lot of courage, if
they had scored there it would have been difficult to come back from that,”
“We showed the mental fortitude and the physical ability to
keep on getting up and making our tackles, forcing the turnover.”
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, who scored the winning try
six minutes from time to clinch the victory, said the Boks had them under the
gun in the first half and it took some effort to fight their way back into the
“The last three years that we’ve played here have been
similar, we were on the back foot for the first 40 minutes, we had a good look
at ourselves at half-time,” he said.
“We were pretty lucky with the try at half time that got us
back into the game but we worked our way back in the second half.”