Saturday, July 10, 2010
The Springboks looked a shadow of their former selves as they were heavily beaten by a far hungrier and supremely physical All Black side in the opening match of this years Tri Nations in Auckland. Four unanswered tries left the score at 32-12 before the reigning champs could work out what hit them.
The top two sides in the world wanted to get the early ascendency in the tournament and it was the All Blacks who showed greater guile and passion as they not only were more physical, but managed to disrupt the visitors' set piece and pestered at the breakdown regularly.
Bakkies Botha managed to get himself cited, as Jimmy Cowan pulled him back before Botha laid into the All Black scrumhalf with the head. The incident was replayed countless times, and Botha will no doubt be out for a few weeks following the disciplinary hearing in Auckland tomorrow.
"I don't approve of any of my players playing outside the rules and it was an ill-disciplined, very poor first half which meant we had no momentum. Only Bakkies can explain what goes on in his head," captain John Smit said.
Botha was yellow carded soon after for a first offence in the redzone, with the earlier incident perhaps playing on the mind of referee Alan Lewis, who missed it at the time.
The momentum shifted and New Zealand got off to a flyer, eventually resulting in an impressive 20-3 lead at half time. The Springboks looked fresher in the second half, but couldnt claw their way back to a decent position as the home side continued to dominate.
"The All Blacks were really good tonight but we just didn't rock up, the lights were out tonight. A very poor, ill-disciplined first half killed any momentum, but we played better at the start of the second half.
If we could have kept that pressure on, there was enough time for us to get back on even terms. But we were non-existent at the breakdowns, there was nothing going on on our side and we didn't put up much of a contest," Smit said.
"Our minds just weren't in the right place, there's no need for over-analysis. It was totally out of character, normally physicality and bringing that attitude to the set-piece comes naturally for this team. But it's nothing we can't get back.
"Our lineout has been good for a long time, but I have to take it on the chin, I've been poor all week in missing my jumpers. We should have done a lot more in the air and Victor will be frustrated with the kind of balls I threw to the guys," he added.
"There's no need to panic, it's nothing we can't fix. It's not a train smash, it's only the first game of the Tri-Nations. Now we need to stop the momentum of a great team but our destiny is in our own hands," De Villiers said.
The Botha incident will be posted seperately soon, as will the Haka if anyone wants to see it.