Cape Town - Despite their agonising defeat to the All Blacks in Pretoria, the Springboks “are back”, former coach Nick Mallett has said.
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Mallett was speaking as a SuperSport pundit after Saturday’s Test between the nations at Loftus Versfeld.
The All Blacks won 32-30 after overturning a 30-13 deficit in the final quarter.
The final scoreline, coupled with the Boks' 36-34 victory margin in Wellington earlier in the tournament, saw the sides 'draw' 66-all in this year's Rugby Championship.
“I think the supporters understand that South Africa are on the up and up. We have had quite a few years of disillusionment. Heyneke Meyer only managed to win one against the All Blacks and Allister Coetzee zero. We took a couple of 50-pointers, which demoralises the support, so we have a bit of trepidation before we say the Boks can win. After these two showings, scoring 36 points away and 30 points at home, we are definitely back,” Mallett said.
Mallett however lauded the All Blacks for the composure they showed in fighting back.
“A bit of ill-discipline crept into our game. We had a couple of turnovers at the breakdown, they had a few phenomenal kicks into the corner. We have to compliment this All Blacks team. It is heartbreaking for the Springboks who play so phenomenally, but let’s give credit to the All Blacks,” Mallett said.
“When they decided to hold onto the ball among their forwards, with the close quarter driving play that they have, every player had a support play on his shoulder. It doesn’t matter if they made half a metre or a metre, they scored two tries from it. We had similar situations and we turned the ball over. So, their close-quarter control of the ball and a bit of ill-discipline from us won them the game.”