CAPE TOWN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - New Zealand’s All Blacks have quickly sent shudders down the spine of their other two Rugby Championship opponents after their crushing 38-13 win in Sydney over Australia at the start of the annual four-nation southern hemisphere competition.
“They were awesome. We are chasing them, everyone is chasing them,” said South Africa’s coach Rassie Erasmus, who watched the All Blacks’ runaway win on television before later on Saturday seeing his side beat Argentina 34-21 in Durban.
“After being 6-0 down just before halftime, they smashed Australia at home. Such is their class, they did it with two debutants,” said Erasmus.
“It wasn’t like they had a settled team. Sonny Bill (Williams) didn’t play, they had changes in the pack, a new tighthead making a debut off the bench. It was an unbelievable performance by them.”
The Springboks play Argentina again on Saturday, then Australia before meeting the All Blacks in Wellington on Sept. 15.
“We are ranked number six in the world and we have to still chase down five teams to become number one in the world and we can see where have to go to get to the top,” added Erasmus.
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma agreed it would again be hard to stop the world champions New Zealand, who have won five of the last six Rugby Championship titles.
“Last year South Africa played the perfect game against them in the Rugby Championship and still lost. We hope they don’t run us over but it will be hard,” he said.
Argentina will face New Zealand in Nelson on Sept. 8 before hosting them in Buenos Aires on Sept. 29.
South Africa host New Zealand in the last round of matches in Pretoria on Oct. 6. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg, editing by Ian Chadband)