South Africa's Courtnall Skosan reacts after their loss to New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS
South Africa's Courtnall Skosan reacts after their loss to New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS

Auckland — As far as horror shows go, Saturday’s Test was the pits or pinnacle, depending on whether your jersey is green or black.

For the All Blacks, it was 80 minutes to savour; for the Boks, it was a black mark on South African rugby.

If it was a movie, it would be compulsory viewing for the next 100 years in New Zealand, while in SA, it would be used to let future generations know how bad things were in 2017. Or, how good the All Blacks performed when they gave their old rivals a lesson.

Whatever Springbok coach Allister Coetzee does, he will always be judged by how his teams fared against the All Blacks. After three encounters, he has not only encountered repeated bloodied noses, but soul-destroying solar plexus punches in the form of three heavy defeats.

A big lesson learnt and one Coetzee may need to take to heart is the need to soak up pressure and let the other team do all the attacking

Saturday’s 57-0 defeat is one that will stand out for eternity and not because New Zealand have widened the gap between them and their fiercest rival, but because heavy defeats are becoming synonymous with Springbok-All Black clashes.

The All Blacks know the lay of southern hemisphere rugby land and they are surveying it from the best vantage point.

The Boks stand at 155 points conceded and 23 tries scored against them in the past three matches against New Zealand in Christchurch, Durban and Albany. It would be wrong to say the Boks are back to square one, but it is clear they have no response to New Zealand’s power, precision and intensity.

They conspired in their record-breaking demise as they were not able to deal with the All Blacks defensively and convert their own opportunities.

A big lesson learnt and one Coetzee may need to take to heart is the need to soak up pressure and let the other team do all the attacking.

The Boks did most of the attacking in the first 20 minutes, yet they had nothing to show for their efforts except for the 17 points they conceded through turnovers. There is nothing wrong with taking the game to the All Blacks, but it needs to be done in a calculated and patient manner.

The need to be accurate in execution is also a prerequisite, along with a functional set-piece. It was the set-piece that allowed the Springboks to force a draw in Perth and play themselves into a position of winning the same Test.

With New Zealand going into the game on the back of criticism despite their near-perfect Rugby Championship record and the drawn series against the British and Irish Lions, they had a point to prove. They had the air of a team that did their homework and made sure they would not give their rivals a sniff.

It is always tough to make changes, but the familiarity of victory — the five the Springboks collected before the Australian draw — may have bred an air of contempt. The Boks found themselves in a position where they were to mount a gallant resistance, but the performance was far from that.

It was not a capitulation similar to Durban 2016, where the Springboks simply stopped playing rugby in the last 20 minutes. It was a sustained frontal assault after the absorption of early pressure and that transference of pressure was too much.

If it was fortitude, an element of fortune and skill that allowed the All Blacks to break out early, their adherence to basics for the rest of the game spoke of an appreciation for the small things that build a successful team.

Having weathered the storm, their forwards took charge and dictated the pace of the game. It is something Coetzee will learn over time once he has indentified the correct individuals to take the Boks to a level where they are competitive against the All Blacks.

If the Boks beat Australia and lost narrowly to New Zealand, the tour would have been a qualified success.

In light of the evisceration, the Tests in Bloemfontein and Cape Town will determine whether the Springboks are quick learners.

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