'Boks closing gap on All Blacks'

Nick Mallett (Gallo Images)
Nick Mallett (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks have proved that the gap is closing between them and the world No 1 All Blacks, says former Bok coach Nick Mallett.

Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio after the Springboks' 27-25 Rugby Championship win over the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

It was second-ranked South Africa's first win over New Zealand since 2011 and also coach Heyneke Meyer's first taste of victory over the Kiwis after five straight losses.

Earlier in the Rugby Championship, the Boks narrowly lost 14-10 away to the All Blacks in Wellington, and after sneaking a win at the weekend, Mallett believes the gap is closing between the two teams.

"What a Test match. It can't get better than that, can it?" said Mallett. "South Africa played some of the best rugby I've seen them play in that first half, but the All Blacks showed their championship quality the way they came back at them in the second half.

"These are the two best teams in the world. The Springboks haven't won the World Cup, but they've taken a massive step forward with victory here. This win against New Zealand would've done wonders for their confidence. They've got the monkey off their back. It may only be one out of six that we've won (against the All Blacks), but we've shown that the gap is closing."

Mallett also praised the Boks for the game plan they employed.

"There was good variation on the play from the Boks. We kept it in hand when we needed to and our kicking game showed massive improvement. We put pressure on the All Blacks when we kicked and when they kicked, we held onto possession.

"The Boks kicked 15 times out of hand today and lost possession 10 times. The All Blacks kicked 14 times and lost possession on 12 occasions. The Boks also scored two tries that were a direct result of good kicks. It was an impressive kicking performance and justification for this group of players and the coaching staff."

The Springboks now shift their attentions to their year-end tour to Europe where games against Ireland in Dublin (November 8), England in London (November 15), Italy in Padova (November 22) and Wales in Cardiff (November 29) await.

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