Henry offers no excuses for spree of All Black errors

South Africa 28 New Zealand 19
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The Independent Online

The All Blacks coach Graham Henry made little attempt to spare the feelings of his own players after their clueless performance confirmed South Africa's superiority in the Tri-Nations Test match in Bloemfontein.

Henry, never a man for prissy words when the stark truth will do, said bluntly: "There are no excuses. We have no complaints about the altitude or the turnaround time between last week's Test and today's. South Africa were the better team and deserved to win. They played better than us.

The New Zealand captain and flanker, Richie McCaw, echoed such sentiments, saying: "There are things you just cannot afford to do in Test matches."

The litany of errors committed by the All Blacks was uncharacteristic and decisive in South Africa's favour.

They were turned over too many times at the breakdown, struggled in the line-outs, showed insufficient cohesion and made some horrendous errors at crucial times. Some of the dumb things they tried, like crooked scrum feeds by Brendon Leonard at successive scrums after he had already been penalised by the Irish referee Alain Rolland, beggared belief.

It all meant that South Africa, who were 17-3 ahead early in the second half, could withstand New Zealand's threatening comeback when they closed the gap to 17-13.

In normal circumstances, that comeback, triggered by Conrad Smith's brilliant individual try and Stephen Donald's reliable goal-kicking, could very likely have borne fruit. But not for this error-ridden New Zealand team.

With the game hanging in the balance at 20-16 and with eight minutes left, Piri Weepu threw two shocking passes which handed possession tothe Springboks and ended with Jaque Fourie scoring in the corner, after an 80-metre break-out. That settled it.

South Africa: Tries Pienaar, Fourie; Penalties M Steyn (3),F Steyn (2), Pienaar; New Zealand: Try C Smith; Conversion Donald; Penalty goal Donald (4).

South Africa: F Steyn; JP Pietersen, J Fourie, J de Villiers (W Olivier 68min), B Habana; R Pienaar (M Steyn 40min), F du Preez; T Mtawarira, B Du Plessis (C Ralepelle 79min), J Smit (capt) (J Du Plessis, 65-71min), B Botha (D Rossouw 68min), V Matfield, H Brussow, J Smith, P Spies.

New Zealand: M Muliaina; J Rokocoko, C Smith (L McAlister 75min), M Nonu, S Sivivatu; S Donald, B Leonard (P Weepu 48min); A Woodcock, A Hore (K Mealamu 53min), N Tialata (O Franks 40min), B Thorn, I Ross (J Eaton 64min), J Kaino, R McCaw (capt), R So'oialo (K Read 53min)

Referee: A Rolland (Ireland).