Springbok skipper John Smit was full of praise for his fellow forwards for laying the platform for his side’s Tri-Nations opening victory over the All Blacks.
Smit reckoned his team was far more accurate than they had been in their 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions and believes they can build on their Blomefontein triumph when they meet the New Zealanders again in Durban this weekend.
The 28-19 victory rocketed the reigning world champions back to the No 1 spot on the IRB World Rankings for the first time in a year and made it seven wins in their last eight Tests.
“It’s always up to the big boys to set the platform, and we did that today. The intensity in those rucks and mauls was unbelievable and it was a special place to be – it was just a great Test against the All Blacks,” said Smit
“Everyone wants to play wide, but it is a fact that you have to do the hard yards up front if you want to win the game and it cannot happen for you if you don’t.
“We were a lot more accurate today than we were in the series against the Lions and we put a lot of pressure on the All Blacks and maintained that pressure. It was a vital win for us as it was crucial for us to get off to a winning start as we were playing at home.
“I said during the week that it was vital for the All Blacks to follow up their home win against Australia last week with a win away from home, but it was even more vital for us.
“We were hoping to put more pressure on them than we did and they were probably happy with the way it went. They shut us down at the back of the lineout, which limited us in many ways.”
Having won the World Cup for the second time in 2007, and ended a 12 year wait to gain revenge over the Lions with their 2-1 series victory this summer, Smit’s men are now looking to win the Tri-Nations title for the first time since 2004.
Since then the All Blacks have dominated wining the southern hemisphere’s top crown for four successive seasons. In fact, New Zealand have taken the title nine times in 13 years.
The only downside for the Springboks were the gaps in the crowd at the 45,000 Free State Stadium at the weekend. However, Durban’s Absa Stadium is expected to be a sell-out for this weekend’s second clash with the All Blacks.