13 Sep

Match Report – All Blacks v South Africa
by Tracey Nelson
13 Sep 2009

They came, they saw, and they beat us on our own soil. Last night the South African’s weren’t necessarily bigger, but they were certainly better and while they didn’t show that much in the way of a game plan they didn’t really need to because the All Blacks made enough mistakes for the South Africans to win and take out the Tri Nations.

The All Blacks’ game was again full of mistakes with handling errors and an inability to win our own lineouts (none of our own throws in the first half) again prominent. The fact that Dan Carter put two restarts out on the full and threw a wobbly delayed pass that was intercepted by Jean de Villiers for a try that put the visitors ahead by 19 points probably summed up the wobbles that the entire All Black side seemed to be suffering from.

Amazingly, this game actually looked better watching it on replay than it did live at the ground, however the fact remains that the All Blacks are their own worst enemy and continue to put themselves under pressure throughout the game. Noises were made in the lead up to this test that winning the breakdown would be important, yet there did not seem to be the numbers nor the forward drive over the ball to ever make this a reality.

Likewise the lineout continues to irk, with overthrows and poor timing again the main problem. Many thought that our scrum would be dominant, but somehow the Boks had done enough work since Brisbane to at least have parity for the most part – and on one occasion, when the All Blacks had passed up a shot at goal and opted for a scrum on the South African’s 22 they ended up getting shunted backwards.

There were glimmers of light in the last 20 minutes, when the All Blacks almost seemed to give up what was a scratchy gameplan at best and just threw themselves into the game. A nicely placed kick out to the right wing by Carter saw McCaw make a fine take in the air to dot down in the corner, but it was too little too late and despite a desperate last two minutes of play a similar kick by Carter to the left corner was too deep and went over the sideline to see the All Blacks go down 32-29.

There is a final chance in Wellington against the Wallabies next weekend for the All Blacks to finish the TriNations with some pride intact, for if they don’t beat the Wallabies they run the risk of coming last. Quite whether this side can string some consistency and passion together is the big question, as so far this season they have only stuttered along and we have yet to see any building from game to game.

As for the coaches, there seems little to say. The acid test is now on Steve Hansen to sort the lineout out once and for all. Wayne Smith’s backline has looked out of sorts and incapable of stringing any sort of move together. Only Graham Henry’s defence seems to have got a pass mark for improvement this season, and even that has been scratchy and desperate at times. But there is nobody else to assume the mantle, so we’d all better hope they can come up with something in the next week to inspire their charges and give the NZ public something worth watching.

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