Springbok lock Victor Matfield has pledged the world champions will hit back in next week’s second round of the Tri-Nations when they meet the All Blacks again in Dunedin.
The giant lock took over the captaincy in the second half when John Smit was replaced, but he couldn’t steer his side to a 14th successive win at a rainsoaked Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The Boks had battled back to within a point at half-time, 9-8, thanks to a great try from Bryan Habana, but a quick response after the break from home No 8 Jerome Kaino helped the reigning champions triumph 19-8.
“It was a tough game and the All Blacks showed us how to keep the ball in the wet conditions,” admitted Matfield.
“We were quite happy at half-time, but they were awesome in the second half. We came back out and didn’t hold on to the ball long enough.
“Hopefully we will be better next week and get rid of some of the rust. It’s going to be a tough week, but we are a proud team and we will be back.”
The world champions have to go back to 1998 for their last win on New Zealand soil, although this was their first defeat since last year’s Tri-Nations campaign.
It was a proud moment for stand-in All Blacks skipper Rodney So’oialo as he led his team to victory on his home ground in place of the injured Richie McCaw.
“It’s a very proud moment for me and I’m glad the boys came through,” said the powerful back row man.
“Those 15 minutes at the start of the second half were crucial for us. We wanted to get a good start and that’s what we did."