The Soweto test match ended-up as just another heart breaking experience for Springbok rugby fans.
The All Blacks seems to be in a different class altogether but I thought South Africa had an opportunity to clinch the test.
What was required was to keep the game tight with just bit more preciseness in terms of clinical execution on attack and defence.
The first New Zealand try came totally against the run of play and culminated from a knock on by Jean de Villiers (if I remember correctly). That try exposed our defensive weaknesses on the edges and gave the All Blacks the believe that they could win the match. That try was one of four turning points in the match the other three being the try in the first seconds of the second half; the injury to Johan Goossen and the missed penalty try for Kieran Read taking down a Springbok maul.
Our backline play looked totally disjointed once Goossen went off and Jantjies is surely not the solution as back-up flyhalf. I think Lambie will do much better.
The boks still looked like they could win the match at the beginning of the second half but started the second stretch half asleep. The AB lifted the intensity right from the kick-off clearly with the intention to score first in the second half.
The ease with which they scored that try totally deflated the Springboks and it was all over after that even though the boks did try hard and kept on chipping at the AB defence.
Without Goossen in the pivotal No10 jersey the Boks looked slow, flat footed and a bit disorganised on attack. They did show some fighting spirit and a penalty kick to the corner created some real try scoring opportunities. A certain try was stopped with an illegal tackle by Kieran Read when he collapsed a driving maul close to the goal line. A penalty try there could have put South Africa right back in the match.
South Africa also missed with four penalties and those 12 points would have put a different perspective on the final score. It would also, in all probability, have changed the complexion of the match. For example another 6 points to the half time score would have made the try scored at the start of the second half less of an factor emotionally and strategically for the Springboks.
In the end a heart breaking but deserved victory for the AB. They were just too clinical and showed class in everything they did combined with too much flair on the wing and fullback for our outside backs.
There was no surprise in how the All Blacks approached the match as I predicted their game plan in my previous post and it is worrisome that our defensive systems at the outside had no answer for the All Blacks predetermined plan to play the ball to the wings and attack from there using their big lock forwards standing wide.
One cannot help but feel that with the solid performance of our pack that we could have clinched this one had we been more clinical on attack and defence. More clinical specifically with regard to not losing the ball so often when it looked like something was on when we attacked and better able to shut the AB down on defence out wide. The second All Black try for instance came from two mistakes namely Taute not kicking the ball out and Habana rushing out off line on defence.
A positive spin on this devastating loss at home is probably that the Boks are showing steady improvement and seems to be a work in progress under Heynecke Meyer and not a team held together by a number of senior players as was the case the last four years.
In the final analysis it was defence that cost us the match. The All Black tries just came too easy and if you disect it only 1 (maybe two) of their 5 tries were really team constructed tries. The rest of the tries resulted from Springbok mistakes compounded by poor defence.
The fact the the AB were alble to win this one is surely a feather in their cap and testiment of what great All Black team this is but heart breaking from a South African perspective. Personally, with my Springbok tinted glasses on I do feel that this match was closer than the scoreboard reflect. Marginal improvements on defence could have seen a diffrent final result.