Wellington thriller no World Cup pointer
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: The Springboks celebrated their last-gasp, 16-all draw with New Zealand as a ‘win’, but said it would have no bearing on their blockbuster clash at the World Cup.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, said he was “quietly excited” with the way his side performed, despite Herschel Jantjies’ late converted try which left the scores level.
While South Africa was jubilant, the All Blacks trudge from the field in Wellington as if they had lost.
The two sides will meet again in the World Cup group stage on September 21.
“We won 16-all,” is how Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus described the result.
“We take a lot of belief out of this game.”
The Springboks dominated the first half only to trail 7-6 at the break and were then outplayed in the second half before producing the equalising try in the final minute.
“We certainly take a lot of positives out of this because [New Zealand] is the world’s number one team, they’re the benchmark. We all strive to be where they are,” Erasmus said.
However, Erasmus said it was no indication of what shape the teams would be in when they meet in Japan in two months, with the loser likely to face Ireland in the quarterfinals.
He pointed to the build-up to the 2011 World Cup, when South Africa also beat New Zealand, but it was the All Blacks who went on to win the ultimate prize.
“To play the No 1 team in the world and be lucky at the end there, it was almost like last year,” Erasmus said.
“Right at the end we could have lost it and we managed to draw the game, and Handré could have missed that last kick so we could have lost that game.
“To come away with a draw, I guess we’re satisfied with that. The first 35 minutes we played very well while they totally dominated the second half. So fairly lucky, in a big way,” said Erasmus.
Hansen, bidding for a third consecutive world title after also guiding the All Blacks to victory 2015, played down the draw and the All Blacks’ error count, which was especially high in the first half.
“We’ve got a plan, we’re reasonably happy with where we’re going,” he said.
“Whilst I know a lot of people won’t be happy with a lot of mistakes, neither are we, but we’re also seeing enough things in our game to get quietly excited.”
There were, however, positives to take from another massively tough tussle with the arch-rivals, according to Erasmus.
“We certainly take a lot of positives out of this, because they are the world’s No 1 team, they’re the benchmark and we all strive to be where they are.”
The Bok mentor was frustrated that his team did not collect more reward for their early efforts, when they were clearly dominant.
“I was frustrated in the sense that we dominated a lot of things except line-outs.
“All the other facets we dominated. Especially when they were almost under caution from the referee for repeated infringing and we missed the penalty when we could have gone nine points up, then they scored that turnover try and that swung the momentum.
“Lucky to escape, but the first 40 minutes we played really good tactical rugby.”