Boks must win big moments

Victor Matfield says the Springboks will need to be more clinical at key moments against the All Blacks, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.

The Boks have been chasing the All Blacks for the IRB’s No 1 ranking for three seasons. New Zealand have always been one step ahead of their South African counterparts. This statement is supported by the All Blacks’ overall record, as well as a record against the Boks that reads: played five, won five.

The Boks came close to beating the All Blacks in 2012, but failed to make multiple scoring chances count. They had the opportunity to win recently in Wellington, but a poor attacking decision as well as some excellent New Zealand defence at the death saw the All Blacks finishing on the right side of the result.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said on Wednesday that South Africa let themselves down in these fixtures. The Boks not only failed to take their own opportunities, but leaked points at the other end due to a few ‘soft moments’ on defence.

Victor Matfield has been at the centre of some famous Bok victories against the All Blacks, and most recently, a gutting 14-10 defeat. He agreed with the Bok coach, stating that South Africa would not end their winless run against New Zealand unless they delivered a more clinical showing.

‘Even when the All Blacks aren’t at their best, they find a way to win the big moments [and ultimately the match],’ said Matfield. ‘We’ve seen them do it three or four times already this year. Then it becomes a habit, and they become very hard to beat.

‘It’s something we’ve spoken about, and something we want to develop in our own side,’ the Bok vice-captain continued. ‘We’ve pulled through on a few occasions this season [the Boks edged Wales 31-30 in Nelspruit, beat Argentina 33-31 in Salta, and thumped the Wallabies 28-10 thanks to a late burst]. But we could have also pulled through in the away games in Australia and New Zealand.’

That loss in Wellington marked the Boks’ sixth consecutive defeat to the All Blacks on New Zealand soil. By contrast, the All Blacks have managed to win the last two games in South Africa, both of which have been played on the Highveld.

‘It’s no longer a [daunting] thing to play in this part of the world [for New Zealand],’ said Meyer. ‘They’re a great side and we know we will have to be at our best if we are going to win this weekend. We can’t afford any soft moments, and if we get into a position to win, we must make sure we finish.’

Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli