Continuity the key to Springboks’ success
Hansen still has his areas of concern, despite 78-0 victory
SAMOA captain Kahn Fotuali’i had a simple message to the British and Irish Lions after his side were thumped 78-0 by the All Blacks at Eden Park yesterday.
“Defend well,” the Bath scrumhalf told reporters. “When you turn the ball over, they capitalise on it. It was tough.”
The All Blacks, who play the first test against the Lions on June 24, had struggled with a Samoan side who put them under pressure for 30 minutes and it was only a sweeping 95-metre try finished by flyhalf Beauden Barrett
that broke the shack- les.
The world champions ran in 12 tries in all with their support play, putting players into space and ability to exploit every opportunity that should give Warren Gatland something to think about over the next eight days.
The majority of the All Blacks’ tries came when they transitioned from defence into attack, while they also struck three times from a solid scrum, which pleased coach Steve Hansen given the problems the Crusaders had with referee Mathieu Raynal six days ago.
“We had a good meeting with him last night and discussed what he wanted,” Hansen said, while adding that Super Rugby was trialling new engagement processes that were not universal and could have been the problem last Saturday.
“I thought he refereed well.”
Typically slow starters in the first match of their international seasons, the All Blacks had organised the game to give them an opportunity to gel their combinations.
In most respects the match did exactly that, with plenty still to work on, Hansen said.
The big concern was the ease with which Sonny Bill Williams was turned inside out by opposite Alapati Leiua and Tim Nanai- Williams early on before he settled into his combination with Anton Lienert-Brown.
The goal-line defence was also strong, but Hansen said it would need to improve.
“Doesn’t matter who you play, if you keep them to zero that’s not a bad effort,” he said.
“The first 20 we got asked a lot of questions and we had to work hard.
“It wasn’t perfect but it was effective. The guys worked hard and got off the ground.”
Samoa coach Alama Ieremia said he had been pleased with his side’s performance in the first half, but once they turned the ball over the All Blacks were ruthless.
“Good luck to a team that turns the ball over against them,” the former Samoa and All Blacks centre said. “They really took their opportunities.
“They were pretty impressive in their finishing and any weakness you show you get punished.”
● Lions coach Warren Gatland is poised to call in up to six extra players for the final three weeks of their tour of New Zealand to lessen the burden on the team he expects to play the tests, British media say.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had said on Thursday that he suspected Gatland was about to expand his squad in order to give him the opportunity to run two separate teams for the crunch end of the tour.
British media said yesterday that Gatland, who had suggested last year he would expand his squad while in New Zealand, was waiting until after the tests in the southern hemisphere this weekend before he made the announcement.
Wales beat Tonga 24-7 in Auckland yesterday, while Scotland play Australia in Sydney today. Ireland are in Japan.
England are in Argentina but due to time zones, any of their players would probably not arrive in New Zealand before Tuesday.
Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg has already had to return home after he broke his cheekbone in an accidental collision with teammate Conor Murray, while lock Courtney Lawes failed concussion checks against the Otago Highlanders on Tuesday.
England flyhalf Owen Farrell has also suffered a quadriceps strain and could be in danger of missing the first test against the All Blacks next Saturday.
The decision would give Gatland a squad of 46, allowing him to run two separate teams with the new players likely to play in the midweek team against the Waikato Chiefs on Tuesday and Wellington Hurricanes the following week. – Reuters