WELLINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - A 36-34 loss to South Africa was ‘disappointing’, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said, but the lessons from Saturday’s game would stand his team in good stead as they looked ahead to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Springboks had been underdogs before the Rugby Championship clash in Wellington, having lost their last two games, but they stunned Hansen’s side to score five tries and secure their first win in New Zealand since 2009.
“We lost the game because we allowed the South Africans to score 36 points and that’s something we can control,” Hansen told reporters after a game that had the crowd of more than 34,000 on the edge of their seats until the final minute.
“The result is a credit to South Africa, they played particularly well.
“We’re obviously disappointed. There are things we just need to work on (and) we’re going to have to go away and do some work on our game.”
Hansen had said before the southern hemisphere competition that this year was about bedding down a playing style, tactics and selections before next year’s global tournament.
After three bonus-point victories in their first three games, where they were averaging more than 40 points, New Zealand had been expected to continue that run against a Springboks side searching for a consistent and winning combination and style.
Instead the Springboks played a lot like the All Blacks had, pouncing on mistakes to create opportunities and defending as though their lives depended upon it, particularly for 10 of the final 12 minutes when Willie Le Roux was in the sinbin.
Hansen has always held the view that teams get better from analysing their mistakes and he said that would be the case as they looked ahead to trips to Buenos Aires and Pretoria to end the championship.
“We are working on new structures and tonight we faced a team that put us under pressure,” Hansen said.
“We know what you’re trying to do is on the money but how do we get better at doing it when you face something like we did tonight so we can continue to come out at the other end.
“It’s important that we learn something otherwise it’s a waste of time.
“We will be a bit more edgier than we have been for a while. It won’t do us any harm.” (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Clare Fallon)