The Boks conceded 11 penalties in the 23-13 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday. The New Zealanders, meanwhile, only conceded two.
Questions may well be asked about referee Jerome Garces’ management of the scrum and breakdown at the Yokohama Stadium. When these questions were put to Erasmus and the players after the game, however, they admitted that the Boks only had themselves to blame.
‘The All Blacks won the game. We didn’t lose it,’ Erasmus said of a result that will shape the run-in to the World Cup playoffs.
‘You are always going to struggle when you concede 11 penalties, particularly in a game against a team like the All Blacks. You give a penalty away and suddenly the opposition gains 40m from a kick to touch or three points if their kicker goes for goal.
‘Discipline was our biggest downfall. We can’t moan [about the referee]. We must say well done to the All Blacks and move on.’
Prop Steven Kitshoff said that the All Blacks came into the match with a plan to disrupt the Boks’ strength: the set piece.
The Boks disappointed across the board on Saturday. They were physically and tactically dominant in the first quarter, yet failed to score more than three points. They kicked and defended well initially but were exposed under the high ball as the game progressed.
The All Blacks scored 17 unanswered points in the space of six minutes during the first half. Erasmus bemoaned the mistakes that allowed the All Blacks to run at a fractured South African defence.
‘It’s difficult to shut the All Blacks down when you’re defending at the set piece. That said, it’s a lot easier to stop them there than it is when they get a turnover.