New Zealand 40-7 South Africa, Tri-Nations, July 30
Smit rues missed tackles
ESPNscrum Staff
July 30, 2011
South Africa's Juan de Jongh gets to grips with All Blacks winger Cory Jane, New Zealand v South Africa, Tri-Nations, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, July 30, 2011
Try as they might, the Springboks could not match New Zealand's physicality and intensity © Getty Images

Springboks captain John Smit hopes his side have learnt from their two defeats in the away leg of their Tri-Nations campaign.

South Africa were brushed aside by a ruthless All Blacks who, despite showing glimpses of brilliance, were far from a flawless outfit. The Boks paid the price for missed tackles - 24 in total - and being turned over at the breakdown - happening on six occasions. While Smit will be happy with his personal try return - two in two matches - question marks still remain over his ability to perform at a consistently high level required by international rugby.

Despite fielding a largely second-string side - having left 21 first team players back in South Africa - Smit concedes the scoreboard does not make pretty reading from a Springboks point of view.

"The scoreboard does look ugly. Even though we played good rugby at stages during the game, you're always going to pay if you turn over possession at this level, and we certainly paid for that agianst these blokes," said Smit. "You also can't afford to miss so many tackles, which also cost us tonight.

"It's always terrible to lose, especially against the All Blacks, but we will learn from this and just have to lift our game when we get back home. We did not play enough direct rugby and could not hold onto ball at crucial times. It was the same last week, where our defence was exposed from turn overs, and that is something we must fix up.

"But we brought some young players over here and they would have grown immensely and would have seen what can be done with ball in hand."

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers insists he is aware of his side's recent poor form expressing the need to halt their losing run. "If you look at the scoreboard you'll be very, very disappointed but if you look at how we sometimes controlled the game but couldn't convert our possession into points, that was more disappointing than anything," said De Villiers.

"We don't want to become a good losing side. As winning becomes a habit, so does losing and we don't want that kind of habit."

In contrast, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was satisfied with his side's performance and was pleased with their gradual improvement as they work towards the forthcoming World Cup.

"The match saw us take a step up from our match last week, especially in the physicality of our performance," McCaw said. "Our set-piece was good and we managed to give our backs a good platform to play from.

"I felt we played well in patches throughout the game. The intensity was certainly there and that is something we worked on during the week."

All Blacks coach Graham Henry saw room for improvement following their win but was satisfied with their overall performance. "It's important for us to keep improving," Henry said. "The line-out was very fluent and obviously the boys got scrum dominance as the game went on and we played well at the breakdown.

"I thought our kicking game was average at times. We didn't defend very well from the breakdown so we've got some work to do and the Australians will be a very good rugby side. If we don't improve in those areas we'll be in some trouble next week.

"We probably played about seven out of ten, we were about five out of ten last week so it's getting better and if we can get another improvement next week that will be very satisfying."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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