Rugby World Cup 2019: International media reacts to All Blacks' win over Springboks

All Blacks fans breathed a huge sigh of relief as they beat South Africa 23-13 in a thrilling  Rugby World Cup in Yokohama on Saturday.

The win sets them up to top their group if they can overcome Canada, Italy and Namibia - none ranked in the world's top 10 teams.

Despite the win, not everyone had raving reviews about the All Blacks - with international media saying Steve Hansen's men were "unconvincing", while others praised New Zealand for their performance. 

Jon Cardinelli - SA Rugby Mag

 

"The All Blacks punished the Springboks on the counter-attack and in the air to win in their Pool B opener. 

"The Boks will leave Yokohama with nothing but regrets. While the All Blacks deserve credit for making their chances count, the Boks must be wondering how they let so many great scoring opportunities - and ultimately the opportunity to bank a monumental victory - slip through their fingers.

"The Boks made three big mistakes, and the New Zealanders managed to turn every one of those opportunities into points. Pollard's penalty attempt hit the post, and somehow the All Blacks managed to counter-attack and pick up a penalty at the other end of the field.

"What should concern coach Rassie Erasmus is the poor quality of the finishing as well as the game management in that first quarter. Had the Boks converted more of their opportunities into tries, they would have forced the All Blacks to chase the game."

Nick Said - Reuters

 

"Four minutes of first-half brilliance led an otherwise unconvincing New Zealand to victory over South Africa in a clash between two World Cup favourites on Saturday that never quite lived up to its billing.

"Having wrestled the Rugby Championship from their rivals last month, South Africa pinned a scrappy New Zealand back for 20 minutes but, with only three points to show for it, the Springboks were left stunned by two scintillating team tries from wing George Bridge and lock Scott Barrett.

Richie Mo'unga makes a break against the Springboks.
Richie Mo'unga makes a break against the Springboks. Photo credit: Photosport

"The Springboks had the physicality to match New Zealand but not the precision, with too many missed tackles, at times aimless kicking and poor hands under the high-ball, gifting away territory.

"The All Blacks, though, were also uncharacteristically sloppy and, apart from their two moments of excellence, failed to trouble the Bok try line in a performance that will give their World Cup rivals food for thought."

Mantej Mann - BBC Sport 

 

"Both countries are expected to make the latter stages of this tournament and they both impressed in a thoroughly entertaining test match.

"For the first 20 minutes, South Africa held a slender lead as they looked to impose themselves on the All Blacks with plenty of front-foot ball. But when Pollard's second penalty came back off the post, momentum swung in the All Blacks' favour.

"Their five-minute blitz that took the game away from South Africa and reminded the rest of the world how clinical this All Black side are, despite losing their number one ranking coming into the tournament." 

Ali Stokes - The Telegraph 

 

"New Zealand fired an ominous warning of their grim focus to secure a record third-straight World Cup crown by grinding past South Africa 23-13 in Yokohama.

"The back-to-back world champion All Blacks fended off everything a turbocharged Cheslin Kolbe and the Springboks could throw at them, powering to an opening victory at times prosaic in style - but every inch foreboding for their foes.

"New Zealand hardly excelled here, and Beauden Barrett's move to fullback continues to polarise opinion, and perhaps fail to convince.

"But boss Steve Hansen likes his All Blacks to build into tournaments, and his backline that finished the match - with Beauden Barrett at 10, Sonny Bill Williams in the centre and Ben Smith at fullback - will no doubt prove the starting combination for knockout clashes."

Gerry Thornley - The Irish Times 

 

Rumours of the champions impending demise may have proved premature. South Africa's reinvention and rejuvenation under Rassie Erasmus ensured they arrived in Japan ahead of New Zealand and looking more settled after going toe-to-toe with them over their last three meetings. Whereupon the All Blacks put the Boks back in their box.

"From a parochial perspective, the incentive for Ireland to beat Scotland is even greater. The Boks are uber-physical and well-organised, but the back-to-back champions remain the most capable side on the planet of soaking up pressure and stealthily striking for, say, 17 points in a five-minute spell. As they did here. They are to be avoided, preferably, for as long as possible.

"This was the powerful team being outsmarted and outplayed in the finer skills of the game."

James Richardson - The South African 

 

"The Springboks lost their early momentum in the match against the All Blacks due, in part, to Frenchman Jerome Garces' stunning ignorance of the dark arts of the scrum.

"For the first three scrums, Joe Moody's elbow went straight into the turf, but Garces completely missed it. Later in the match, he would award the All Blacks a penalty despite Ofa Tuungafasi over-extending into a virtual belly flop to bring a scrum down in their half.

"Garces made at least one borderline call in favour of the Springboks, but that call was arguably incorrect and Makazole Mapimpi should probably have gone to the bin for conceding the penalty that allowed the All Blacks to level the scores. "

"The notion that these decisions balance each other out at the end of the day is an unverifiable cliche, what sports fans all want is for results to be fair and for officials to have as little impact on the outcome as possible."

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