All Blacks assert their superiority

2012-10-08 00:00

THE All Blacks’ superiority over the Springboks in the Soweto Test on Saturday evening was so complete that even the wounds the New Zealanders suffered were self-inflicted.

The New Zealanders shrugged off jet lag, the Springboks’ home ground advantage — at altitude and in front of 80 000 South African supporters — an 11-4 penalty count and a yellow card to score four tries to a fortunate one by the Springboks for a 32-16 win.

And, when All Blacks captain Richie McCaw sported an impressive black eye after the contest, there were those who thought that at least there had been some Springbok retribution for his nefarious activities at the bottom of numerous rucks.

No such luck.

“It was friendly fire, I’m afraid,” said the 112-Test veteran. “I have [All Black prop] Owen Franks to thank for this one. This game doesn’t make you any prettier.”

The Springboks were laboured and predictable on attack. They seek contact when they have ball in hand and quickly go to ground. The New Zealanders search out open spaces and off-load in the tackle.

The Boks did apply all the early pressure and scored the first try following a strong Willem Alberts run, a lucky deflection and a questionable Jean de Villiers pass which even scorer Bryan Habana thought might have been forward.

In contrast, the All Blacks made the art of try-scoring look ridiculously easy as they simply worked the ball into space, created overlaps and finished clinically.

It was the Springbok defence, lacking in organisation and cohesion, which was most worrying. The All Blacks scored one try off a simple move when a clearance kick missed touch, another off a re-start which the Boks did not claim and a third, easy peasy, from a set scrum.

The Boks failed dismally to close down the All Blacks backs quickly enough, they fell off some tackles and, without any speed in their backrow, there was no cover or scrambling defence.

The New Zealanders had travelled the world to play on the highveld and should have been lacking incentive after already winning the title, but it was the Boks who were short of intensity in defence and ran out of puff in the second half when they conceded 20 points without reply.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer spoke again of the Boks being punished “for their soft moments” but, in truth, the All Blacks looked threatening whenever they carried the ball wide.

McCaw said that the All Blacks’ mental strength was a crucial factor in their win.

“We had the Rugby Championship sewn up last weekend, but the guys understood the challenge of coming to South Africa, and the need to back it up with another victory.

“There are a few guys in our squad who have been around a while and they ensured that we kept our edge. Our fuel tanks probably were not 100%full coming into this game so it came down to mental desire.”

They also have the tools to do the job, a mobile backrow, skilful backs and a flyhalf, in Dan Carter, who knows just how and when to tap into their talents.

Meyer offered no excuses.

“The All Blacks really are a quality team, particularly Dan Carter for the way he controlled the game.

“They are the best in the world at exploiting and capitalising on turnover ball.”

The Boks may be second on the world rating list but the gap between two and one is a yawning one.

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