Con­ti­nu­ity the key to Spring­boks’ suc­cess

Hansen still has his ar­eas of con­cern, de­spite 78-0 vic­tory

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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