An All Blacks side whose skills let them down in a Test match is certainly not the norm, and flyhalf Richie Mounga admitted on Monday that it was Springbok pressure that led to New Zealand’s error-strewn display in a 26-10 defeat at the Mbombela Stadium at the weekend.

South Africa produced an epic defensive display: their rush off the line, their scrambling and physical dominance of the gain-line; and their aerial mastery and an outstanding performance by the pack in the set-pieces were all too much for the All Blacks as the Springboks recorded their biggest winning margin over their greatest rivals since their 17-0 win in Durban in 1928.

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“It was obviously very disappointing for us but it confirmed how good this South African team is. They just build so much pressure,” Mounga said.

“With their set-piece, coming round the corner and getting penalties, it just becomes an ongoing cycle that is really difficult to get out of. We’ll have to talk about how to counter that.

“It was just a matter of skill errors. You don’t have to be in the right frame of mind to catch the ball, to do your job or do the basics right. But not doing those put us in that cycle.

“It’s called a Test match for a reason because it will test your skill. It was tough to get around them, their high line put us under big pressure. The things we spoke about in order to combat that, we didn’t do well at all,” said Mounga, who is likely to start at flyhalf on Saturday at Ellis Park because Beauden Barrett was injured in his collision with Kurt-Lee Arendse.

‘Our fans get frustrated’

The classy Crusaders star said the All Blacks were trying to shut out all the outside noise, but he understood why their fans were up in arms.

“We know our fans can get frustrated with results and that is very fair, and it’s fair for them to care. We know that our performance was not good enough for All Blacks standard,” Mounga said.

“But we don’t care what the fans think, I don’t really care what people think if they’re not in our squad. We are so close, but close is not good enough at this level.

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“The Springboks’ game-plan is simple – they build numerous consecutive positive plays and that puts you under pressure. It takes just simple execution to change that,” he added.

“The most basic skills we couldn’t execute, but if we can fix that then we can start to put them under pressure. At the moment we’re frustrated because we’re making the same errors.”

By editor