Smit: ‘The positives are we can’t do any worse and we’ve got a week to fix it’

2010-07-12 00:00

SPRINGBOK captain John Smit was in no mood for excuses after his team had been whipped 32-12 by the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday and was even critical of his own form in the Tri-Nations opener.

The Springboks, lacking passion and intensity, were ruthlessly exposed by the All Blacks, who had done their homework and were better in every area of the game.

Smit, who conceded his lineout throwing had lacked precision, said he had not been surprised by the quality of the All Blacks — “but was surprised by how bad we were”.

He said the yellow-carding of Bakkies Botha for a professional foul, minutes after his head-butting of All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan, had been the turning point in the Test and the Boks never had any momentum.

“The All Blacks were the hungrier side and played a really quick game. You can’t keep tackling for a full game. In the past we’ve been able to put more pressure on them defensively. But, with that quick ball, it’s hard to stop,” he said after the Boks, who pride themselves on their defence, missed 30 tackles.

The All Blacks were more secure in the scrums, out-muscled the Boks at the breakdown and even had the better of Victor Matfield and company in the lineouts.

Richie McCaw, the All Black captain, said that the win had set a new benchmark.

“There’s no excuse for going back. If we are going to be successful in this Tri-Nations, we have to play like that every week.”

His coach Graham Henry, surprised by the margin of victory, said the win was “very special,” but warned that Saturday’s second Test in Wellington would be different.

“You don’t beat teams like South Africa without them hurting,” he said. “They will be wounded animals and they will play accordingly.”

Henry pointed out that the Boks had led the second half scoring (9-7) until the All Black’s fourth, bonus point try on the final hooter.

“Things will be more realistic in Wellington,” Henry added. “The Springboks will improve immeasurably, so it will be a more difficult game.”

Smit said that the Boks’ ragged, listless play had been out of character.

“The positives are we can’t do any worse and we’ve got a week to fix it,” Smit said.

SCORERS

New Zealand: Tries — Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Kieran Read, Tony Woodcock

Conversions — Dan Carter (3). Penalties — Carter (2)

South Africa: Penalties — Morné Steyn (4).

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