All Blacks praise defence guru for runaway win

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 19:57

REACTION: The All Blacks paid tribute to defence coach Wayne Smith as they celebrated their record-breaking 57-0 demolition of arch-rivals South Africa in a Rugby Championship clash in Auckland on Saturday.

It was the biggest defeat ever inflicted on the Springboks and it came in the final home Test for Smith, known as "The Professor", who steps down from his role at the end of the championship.

While the All Blacks were pleased to have eliminated many of the bugs in their attack systems to score eight tries, it was the defensive effort that kept the Springboks scoreless that they were most proud of.

And that was a tribute to the work of Smith, a 17-Test All Black in the 1980s, and now recognised as one of the most astute thinkers of the game.

"He's sitting in there happy as a wee sandboy with a smile on his face as wide as the Grand Canyon," head coach Steve Hansen said after the final whistle.

"He prides himself on it. When the team does stuff like that he's happy and he takes it very personally when people score against us.

"For him to go out tonight [Saturday] the way he's gone is only fitting because he's been a great coach."

It was only the fifth time in 94 Tests between the All Blacks and Springboks that the South Africans have been held scoreless.

The All Blacks now have a commanding eight-point lead in the championship with only away games against Argentina and South Africa to play.

Hansen said the Springboks were better than the score indicated, but "our defensive work is probably as good as we've ever had it. That made a big difference".

After a sluggish first 15 minutes at North Harbour Stadium, the All Blacks found their rhythm to score four tries and lead 31-0 at half-time with a further four tries in the second half.

But as the All Blacks cut through the Springboks, particularly in the wide channels, skipper Kieran Read said it was the defensive effort that stood out.

"The Boks threw everything at us. That first half went quick. It was a pretty intense half of footy. To be honest I don't know how we were up by how many points.

"Our defence stayed strong and to not let them in in the second half showed our composure and how much we wanted it."

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee described the All Blacks as "superb" and even in passages of the game when the South Africans dominated they could not find a way to the tryline.

"I'm obviously very disappointed and the players are hurting, and it's definitely not through lack of effort. Passages of great defence, passages of great attack but we couldn't break them. They were too good."

The All Blacks made 102 tackles in the match and missed only 18 while the Springboks made 99 and missed 33.

Agence France-Presse

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