Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Cracking atmosphere, but not much got going — All Blacks’ Sam Cane

The breakdown was an aspect of the game that the All Blacks really struggled at.

All Blacks skipper Same Cane admitted that he enjoyed the hostile atmosphere that welcomed his team during their 26-10 Rugby Championship loss to the Springboks at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday, but was disappointed that they just didn’t get going.

A raucous home crowd was in full voice as they roared the Boks to a dominant win over the visitors, who were pinned in their own half for much of the match and couldn’t get any of their trademark attacks going.

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“To be honest it was awesome to get back out to an atmosphere like that in South Africa. I think it is one of the great challenges in Test rugby playing South Africa over here with the hostility of the crowd and the noise,” said Cane.

“If anything, personally speaking on behalf of a lot of the boys, you sort of love that backs against the wall us versus them and the stadium.

“I think early on they threw a lot of punches in terms of their attack and we did well to absorb a lot. So I was pretty happy with where we were at in terms of the scoreboard going into halftime considering we hadn’t got much going on attack.

“But as it turned out we continued to not quite get enough going and that was the Test match.”

Breakdown struggles

The breakdown was an aspect of the game that the All Blacks really struggled at, with Bok hooker Malcolm Marx enjoying a field day over the ball, almost turning over possession and earning penalties at will.

“That was probably one of the keys of the Test match, our inability to get enough momentum going at the breakdown, Malcolm Marx in particular getting over the ball,” admitted Cane.

“Normally it comes down to the ball carrier winning the collision and then snapping the ball back for  a long placement, but particularly the cleaners were half a second off and he (Marx) was winning that race and once he gets in a strong position over that ball he is one of the toughest in the world to move.”

Another disappointing aspect, and one they need to work on and remedy ahead of the second Test, was their poor handling which proved costly on attack in the home sides 22m and on defence in their own half.

“The ball was slippery, but it’s Test match rugby and we expect us to be able to execute under that sort of pressure. There is no doubt the line speed that the Boks were bringing was not giving us much time on the ball. But we expected that and we trained for that,” said Cane.

“It’s just the individual skillsets. That’s what Test rugby is, it’s just another notch up from the rugby that we’ve been playing. A little bit less time, a little bit more pressure, but it’s still about executing the same basic skillsets.”