YOKOHAMA, Japan, Sept 21 (Reuters) - South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said New Zealand feasted on his side’s errors in their 23-13 World Cup Pool B loss at the Yokohama Stadium on Saturday and bemoaned the penalty count stacked heavily against his side.
New Zealand scored two tries to one in a game characterised by mistakes from both sides, but while the world champions were able to capitalise on the Springbok blunders, Erasmus’s team did not manage the same clinical finishing in return.
Winger George Bridge and lock Scott Barrett completed incisive breaks that came from turnover ball to earn New Zealand a victory that will likely see them top the pool and could mean an easier quarter-final.
This despite the Boks having almost 60% of the territory and most of the possession.
“The tries they scored came from our mistakes,” Erasmus told reporters. “You could see in the first 10 minutes what their plan was to try and ruffle our defence, they kicked two up-and-unders from set-phases under our poles.
“There were times that we really put them under pressure. But people forget that as well as they attack, they defend very well too.
“The moment they get scoreboard pressure and you have to play in your half in these conditions, then they really make it tough.”
Erasmus said the clinical way the All Blacks took their limited chances, versus the Boks’ inability to do likewise, could be a telling factor later in the competition.
“Give all credit to New Zealand,” he said. “It shows experience and a world-class team, and we struggled to handle that. I think it was a combination of them putting pressure on us and us not being able to handle it well.”
Erasmus had been vocal in the build-up to the game about referees treating both teams equally at the World Cup, but says in this instance his side’s discipline let them down.
“We conceded, I think, 11 penalties to two (the count was 9-4 in favour of New Zealand), so we did 11 things wrong and we have to go away and fix it. So that battle we lost.
“(With that count) you’re going to struggle to beat New Zealand, the quality side they are. I think discipline was our biggest downfall. I don’t think we can moan about anything.”
Erasmus confirmed a calf injury for prop Trevor Nyakane “that looks serious”, but said limping winger Cheslin Kolbe and lock Pieter-Steph du Toit had been suffering from cramp.
The Boks are next in action against Namibia on Sept. 28. They also face Italy and Canada in the pool.
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond