SA loss a 'blip' for All Blacks

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Handre Pollard (Gallo)
Handre Pollard (Gallo)

Wellington - New Zealand media on Monday dismissed the All Blacks' loss to South Africa as a "minor blip" which simply confirmed the Springboks will be their major threat at next year's World Cup.

In contrast to the soul-searching that normally follows a rare All Blacks defeat, pundits conceded the New Zealanders lost to the better team on the night in a 27-25 thriller, praising the Boks' adventurous play.

New Zealand Herald rugby writer Kris Shannon said South Africa "took on the All Blacks at their own game and won" to end a world record 22-match unbeaten run in front of an ecstatic Johannesburg crowd.

"Their normally conservative nature was eschewed in favour of free-flowing attack that came from all over the park," he wrote.

"And it's frightening to think what (rookie Springbok flyhalf) Handre Pollard can accomplish with a little more experience under his belt."

Veteran commentator Keith Quinn said the loss showed the All Blacks there was no room for complacency as they prepare to defend the world title they won in 2011.

"No one can go on winning all the time, so this was inevitable," he told Radio New Zealand. "I see already that people are saying it's not a bad thing to happen this far out from the Rugby World Cup."

Former All Black Justin Marshall was similarly philosophical about the end of an unbeaten run that stretches back almost two years, saying the All Blacks had a chance to bounce back against Australia on October 18.

"Sure if they go on to lose at Brisbane in the 'dead' Bledisloe Cup rubber, there might be genuine cause for concern, but at the moment Ellis Park can stand as a minor blip in a fairly comprehensive campaign," he wrote in the NZ Herald.

"The unbeaten run was going to end at some stage and it might as well end with nothing on the line."

Dominion Post rugby writer Liam Napier said the pulsating Test underscored how much better New Zealand and South Africa were than the rest of the world at the moment.

He said the result, which ended a string of five consecutive losses against New Zealand for the Springboks, gave the South Africans an important psychological boost ahead of the World Cup.

"It's not so much the end of their 22-Test unbeaten run that hurt the All Blacks but the realisation the win has given added confidence to the biggest threat in their defence of the Webb Ellis Cup," he said.

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