Veteran All Black Aaron Smith said the Springboks came out as expected at the start of the game and were “proud” of the half-time result, but his team could not kick on due to poor execution of breakdowns.
New Zealand’s woes continued as they lost 26-10 to the Springboks in Nelspruit, making it the All Blacks’ third loss on the return.
Bad with ball in hand
Smith believes his team failed to build pressure with ball in hand, which prevented the All Blacks from staying in the game.
“I thought the start of the game was what we expected, they came out fast and passionate,” Smith said.
“For the first 30 we were able to, they got a try on a spilled ball and after that we were in our half for a little while and then were able to build some pressure back.
“Going in at half-time 10-3 was pretty big after the first 30 minutes of them being hard in our half. So very proud of that effort, but what went wrong was our ability to build pressure with the ball.
“Missing cleaners, they were simply too good on the ball. We had a couple of opportunities to break them and just couldn’t get it done.”
The breakdown was a key point in the match where the Springboks dominated the All Blacks and Smith believes it killed his side’s momentum.
– It is something we have worked on. “Obviously the Irish series was a bit different,” explained Smith.
“Their ability to soak up the tackle but then get on the ball quickly was what they were really good at tonight at certain times.
“Just our discipline to build pressure so we’d win a moment and then make a mistake. Get down in their half and turn the ball over or bad discipline or just easy knocks.
The All Blacks have struggled to score first recently and Smith believes his side need to be “better” with their details from the start.
“We’ve got to control things we can, we’ve got to get a little better on our details. We knew it was going to be tough, they’re at home, full crowd, come out with a lot of passion,” Smith said.
“It’s just about finding the little things early for us, it’s not extremely frustrating, it’s an 80-minute game, but it’s not ideal to start like that.
“It would be nice to score first for once.”
“Respect the ball”
The scrum-half said the All Blacks are not low on confidence but need to pay more attention to things they can control, such as the breakdown.
“I wouldn’t put it down to confidence, but I think we’re trying really hard as a group, there’s no doubt the group wants to get better and I think we’ve made a lot of progress this weekend,” Smith said.
“We played a quality team and knew it wasn’t just going to happen. But there are things that we can fix, that we can control, as I said about the collapse.
“We have to learn the lesson and start believing in ourselves. We have to respect the ball and we can’t let the teams dictate the conditions after the breakdown.
“It’s something that as a half-back is quite noticeable. We get a really quick ball and suddenly we miss a clean out and it’s done.
READ MORE: Ian Foster: Bok loss was All Blacks ‘most improved performance’ this year
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