Head coach Ian Foster believes the struggling All Blacks made progress despite a massive defeat by the Springboks in the Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.
“It was a step up from our last series,” said Foster after a 26-10 hammering for New Zealand at Mbombela Stadium. “The lineout worked well, our maul defence was good and our overall defence was pretty solid, but the timing in terms of attack was a bit off.”
He said a string of penalties conceded by the All Blacks in the first 20 minutes hurt his team: “I felt we were not getting the rub of the green in the first 20 minutes, so that put us behind a little.
“We had to get back into the game but all the Springboks did was carry hard and clean and earn a couple of penalties. Good on them, that is their game. It is a pressure game.”
Foster added that the intensity of the match played in front of a passionate sell-out home crowd of 42,367 had affected some of the new players in the touring squad.
“Some of our guys who are here for the first time – that is what you have to go through and experience.”
Foster said that although there was not much time before a second-round match against the Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg next Saturday, he was confident of an improved performance.
“As the game unfolded, a few opportunities opened up. There were some handling errors but we made a few good strides. But we have to prove it next week.”
The All Blacks’ loss to the Springboks was the fifth in six Tests after three defeats by Ireland and another by France.
Foster has lost nine of 25 Tests in charge of the three-time world champions while predecessor Steve Hansen suffered 10 defeats in 107 Tests.
© Agence France-Presse
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