• ‘All Blacks outsmarted us’

    The Springboks have admitted that they were tactically outplayed by the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-final, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.

    New Zealand beat South Africa 20-18 at Twickenham. The All Blacks played with more conviction and accuracy during a period of the game that was affected by rain. Ultimately, their superior tactical kicking game helped them win the second half 13-6 and secure the result.

    The Boks will remain in England until the completion of the third-place play-off against Argentina at the Olympic Stadium on Friday. The players will begin preparations for this fixture on Wednesday, having had the past three days off.

    Immediately after the loss to the All Blacks, coach Heyneke Meyer lamented the Boks’ poor game management in the second half. Assistant coaches John McFarland and Ricardo Loubscher went into that performance in more detail when addressing the media on Tuesday. The Bok coaches conceded that the All Blacks were the smarter and more skilled side on the day.

    ‘We struggled to get out of our own half,’ said McFarland. ‘We battled with our exiting as they targeted Willie le Roux consistently. All the restarts went his way and that took one of our big kickers out of play.

    ‘I would have liked to have worked harder on the exit strategy,’ McFarland added. ‘The All Blacks were very good in terms of loading the breakdown and that put our kickers under pressure.’

    The Boks took all six of their opportunities in front of goal, but failed to pressure the All Blacks with their attack.

    ‘We couldn’t get into the right positions to launch our attack,’ said Loubscher of the territorial battle. ‘In the buildup, we spoke about performing under the high ball and handling their kicking game, but then we made a lot of errors in the second half.

    ‘[As for the mindset on attack] we didn’t want to give them turnovers. We identified who we wanted to play a low-risk game against. We all bought into the plan.’

    Bok flyhalf Handré Pollard also praised the All Blacks for their superior game management and decision-making.

    ‘We struggled to get the ball in our hands,’ Pollard said. ‘They suffocated and strangled us, which of course is what we usually try to do to our opponents.

    ‘Hats off to them, though, they played the smarter game. They were smart in the way they kicked on Willie and took one of our kickers out of the game.’

    McFarland refused to comment on the future of Meyer and the rest of the management staff. He believes that there will be something important to play for when the team meets Argentina in the third-place play-off.

    ‘The only certainty [about the future] is that there is a game against Argentina this Friday. We’re not in the final, but we’ve put too much effort into this team to stop now. It’s not the final we hoped for, but [to win and secure] third place would be acceptable.

    ‘We also want to ensure that we finish the year third in the world rankings. Argentina will also be playing for that position, so they won’t want for motivation.’

    Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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    Jon Cardinelli