Boks were far better than what scoreline reads, says All Blacks coach
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the Springboks were far better than what the record 57-0 clobbering suggested.
The All Blacks scored eight tries to none on their way to collecting their biggest win against the Springboks at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany.
It may have been the fourth time the All Blacks have put 50 past the Boks, (Auckland, 1997, 55-35) - (Pretoria, 2003, 52-16) (Durban, 2016, 57-15) but this was their most convincing hiding of what was seen as an ascendant Springbok side that went into the game on the back of a six-match unbeaten run.
The All Black put to bed whatever doubts had arisen about their ability to rise to the occasion and silenced the doubters who said they were under-performing.
“We took our opportunities and they probably didn't but our defensive work was as good as probably we've ever had.
"That made a big difference but I think they're a good side and the scoreboard doesn't reflect the margins between the two teams,” Hansen said.
“I'm not sure if we have an extra gear but I know we have a lot of respect for them. Maybe we'll sit back on Monday and talk about it.
"We've been preparing bone-deep for Test matches and that's what we've been doing this week and we put in a very good performance.
"The South African's forced that out of us because we have a massive amount of respect for them and I respect them.”
The All Blacks had every reason to make an example out of the Springboks, especially in light of their two “sub-standard” performances against Australia and Argentina.
They had to fight for every inch of the Forsyth Barr Stadium turf in Dunedin to earn a come from behind 35-29 win against the Wallabies on August 26.
The Pumas pushed the All Blacks to the limit last week with their 22-15 lead but the All Blacks shifted to gears the Pumas couldn't find as they won 39-22 at the Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
Hansen said there still was room for improvement but his charges showed they had an ability to rise to the occasion alongside doing the homework on any perceived weaknesses their opponents may have.
“We've always believed the game has been based on simple principles of winning the set-pieces and defence.
"We targeted the set-piece and wanted to dominate there. Luke Romano came up with a defensive plan and we executed it very well.
"We put them under pressure and in the scrum as the game progressed we got better. We're an attacking rugby team regardless of who we play,” Hansen said.
“It was probably B-plus or A-minus. We drew a series that we should have won. In the three minutes we were behind in that series, we didn't score enough tries and didn't play enough rugby.
"We played pretty good against Australia and we've finished well and we showed some composure. In the early part of this tournament, our composure has been outstanding.
"We could have crumbled against Argentina but we held firm and won comfortably. The team is growing and the belief is growing.”