Rugby Championship

Hansen: Boks will be tough at RWC

2015-07-26 10:35
Steve Hansen (Gallo Images)

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 professional foul.

This advantage was soon diminished when Koch, already on for Jannie du Plessis, suffered a rib injury with referee Jerome Garces calling an uncontested scrum.

“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,” Hansen said.

“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,” Hansen said.

“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 match.

“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.”


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