New Zealand hang on to beat Springboks in Wellington

Sep 13 • General News, International, Springboks, The Rugby Championship • 3022 Views • Comments Off on New Zealand hang on to beat Springboks in Wellington

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Photo: Etienne Burger

The Springboks came within a whisker of becoming the first team to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009 but were ultimately denied at the death of their Castle Lager Rugby Championship encounter in Wellington on Saturday.

The Kiwis won a close Test by 14-10 and were made to work very hard on defence as they kept the Springboks out in the dying minutes.

The Springboks led 7-6 at the break thanks to a scintillating try by Cornal Hendricks, which was converted by Handré Pollard. The young South African flyhalf added a superb drop-goal in the second half of a gripping Test match.

However, two experienced Springboks also suffered serious injuries. Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar’s participation in the rest of the competition has been cut short after he injured medial knee ligaments late in the first half.

Francois Louw (flanker) irritated a nerve down his arm. He will have scans and consult a specialist in Cape Town on Tuesday before a call on his continued participation in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship is made.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer praised his team’s composure on a wet field and especially their great set-piece and defence, but bemoaned a high error count in a Test which the visitors could’ve won.

“I will never be happy when the Boks lose, even if it’s away from home against a great team such as New Zealand,” said Meyer.

“But I’m very proud of the way in which the guys played, especially our youngsters. The All Blacks used their opportunities better and they probably adapted better to the wet field.

“We wanted to keep the ball in hand, but made a number of mistakes close to their tryline. Credit though to the All Blacks, they are a quality side. We gave our best and in the end it wasn’t good enough.

“We should’ve held on the ball better and I thought we scrummed well, out lineouts were great and our defence was immense against and unbelievable attacking unit. They threw it from pillar to post and were very threatening on attack but the guys did brilliantly on defence and credit must go to (defence coach) John McFarland.

“We were also superb stealing ball on the ground, but in games such as these you need some luck. I’m proud of how they hung in, but we probably just didn’t use our opportunities at the end.”

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, who played his 100th Test for South Africa, agreed with his coach that mistakes by the visitors were costly.

“The disappointment (over the result) overshadows the achievement (of 100 Tests),” said De Villiers.

“We got so close and it could’ve gone our way but didn’t. It’s a tough one to swallow; a loss against a quality side. We gave ourselves a chance but it was not good enough at the end.

“We believe we can beat them, but it’s much easier said than done and we need to sharpen up on a couple of things.

“There were probably too many mistakes off first phase. I thought our first phase play was good, but we then lost a lot of possession after the initial attack. It’s not a massive concern though and we’re backing our systems and improving as a team.”

The Springboks will enjoy a weeks’ break before getting together again in Cape Town next Sunday evening. They face Australia at DHL Newlands on Saturday 27 September and New Zealand on 4 October at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

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