Yokohama, Japan (AFP/APP): While happy the All Blacks opened their World Cup campaign with a 23-13 victory over arch-rivals South Africa, coach Steve Hansen faulted the effort and warned they had to improve to win the Cup.
The All Blacks set winning a third consecutive world crown, and fourth overall, as their goal with the ultimate target of regaining domination of the sport. But in their opening Pool B match against South Africa, they struggled to get going until a golden patch midway through the first-half when they scored their two tries in the space of five minutes. The only other try in the match was scored by the Springboks in a failed bid to overhaul the All Blacks in the second half although they were on the verge of nailing a second until flying wing Cheslin Kolbe was cut down by Richie Mo’unga just short of the line. Hansen described that tackle as “a match winner”, adding “that’s what rugby’s about, to try and win the moments that matter”.
But while pleased with the defence, as well as the low penalty count, Hansen found areas of the All Blacks game that needed improvement, particularly in the forwards. “We won, so you have to be happy with that. Were we perfect? No, but you’re never going to be at this stage of the tournament,” he said. “There’s plenty of stuff we can work on.
“It was really hard early in the game for us. Our set piece wasn’t as nice as you’d expect it to be and therefore you can’t have a platform to strike off. “The boys adjusted okay and as they game wore on they’ve got more fluid with it, but it’s always going to be a titanic struggle and it’s an area we’re just continually working on.”
New Zealand’s next game is against Canada on Wednesday in a pool which also includes Namibia and Italy.