Rugby World Cup 2019: Steve Hansen takes positives from All Blacks' win over Springboks

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is pleased with how his team handled the big moments in their 23-13 Rugby World Cup opener against the Springboks on Saturday. 

A two-try blitz in three minutes midway through the first half and a try-saving tackle by Richie Mo'unga proved to be the difference in front of a sold-out crowd at Yokohama Stadium. 

This was the first time in their past five meetings that the score was settled by more than two points.

The All Blacks have never lost in 29 pool games at the Rugby World Cup, the latest win setting them up to top their group if they can overcome Canada, Italy and Namibia - none ranked in the world's top 10 teams.

"I mean we won, didn't we? We've got to be happy with that," said Hansen after the match. 

"Were we perfect? No. But you're never going to be at this part of the tournament. There's plenty we can work on.

"The boys showed a lot of fortitude. We didn't get a lot of chances, but when they came, we took them. We scrambled well too when they had opportunities."

The Springboks started the better of the two nations, but momentum swung in New Zealand's favour when a Handre pollard penalty came back off the post. 

After that miss, New Zealand scored two tries through George Bridge and Scott Barrett, along with a Mo'unga a penalty goal in five minutes to lead 17-5 at the break. 

Pieter-Steph du Toit's try and a Pollard drop-goal made it tense before Mo'unga, and Beauden Barrett kicked a penalty goal each to hold on for a nervy win. 

"They're never out of it," Hansen added. "They're always a team that will come back. They don't die, they stay in the fight.

"Everybody knew this was going to be a big match and obviously it was. Both teams played very well at times, and I'm very happy to come out with a win.

"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 the game got on, they started to get a bit more fluid with it," he said.

"It's an area that we're just continually working on, we're making progress but you can't strike if you don't get TQB, which is top quality ball at the set piece."

New Zealand now have 10 days off, before regrouping for their next outing against Canada on October 2. 

The Springboks are back in action next Saturday, when they take on Namibia - the lowest-ranked team at the tournament.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us for live updates of the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Newshub. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz