AUCKLAND (Reuters) - A shell-shocked Springboks side have no choice but to pick themselves up for their final two Rugby Championship matches in South Africa after they were thumped 57-0 by New Zealand on Saturday, coach Allister Coetzee said.
The world champions ran in eight tries at North Harbour Stadium, with Beauden Barrett converting seven and adding a penalty as the All Blacks emphatically took control of the southern hemisphere competition.
Steve Hansen’s side moved to 19 points on the table, eight ahead of the second-placed Springboks, who now host the Wallabies in Bloemfontein on Sept. 30 before finishing the championship against the All Blacks a week later in Cape Town.
“Credit to the All Blacks they were superb,” a subdued Coetzee told reporters. “That’s why they’re the world’s number one team.
“I’m very disappointed and the players are hurting, it’s not through lack of effort.
“It is a challenge for us emotionally. We will see how we are tomorrow. I have great faith that these players will never give up. Never.
“We have no option but to fight back in South Africa. We will get stronger from this learning experience.”
The Springboks were competitive for sustained periods of the match, something the All Blacks identified after the game despite the scoreline.
Their set piece, however, struggled after providing them with stability in their six previous games, and they lost five of their 14 lineouts and three of their six scrum feeds.
“We have had an unbelievable success rate with our set piece but tonight we were put under tremendous pressure,” Coetzee said. “That is something we have to have a look at.”
Springboks captain Eben Etzebeth, a man of few words at the best of times, also appeared to be coming to terms with the result — the worst defeat in Springboks’ history.
“I told them that we had to pick our heads up and be much better in those two games,” he said.
“It is going to be very hard. But I trust in the guys.”
Coetzee also said he had faith the team would be able to rebound from the loss, despite the fact he expected critics would focus on the scoreboard.
“These guys will bounce back. A lot of people will see the score and not draw any positives from it, but I see a lot of positives in it,” Coetzee said.
“We need to improve in a lot of areas but Kieran (Read) summed it up aptly, they had been in a test match — don’t look at the score, they’d been a test match.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Pritha Sarkar