Another defeat against the world champions next weekend would will likely prove to be the end for Foster. –The Guardian 6 August 2022

By Roger Childs

All Blacks Coach’s position becoming untenable

Ian Foster has the worst record ever for an All Black coach over six consecutive tests with five losses. The knives have been out for some time to replace him with the very successful Canterbury and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson who does want the job. The Rugby administrators foolishly extended Foster’s contract last year to the end of the 2023 World Cup. It is rumoured that they would have to make a payout to Foster of $2 million if the contract is broken.

After losing 10-26 to South Africa in the packed Mbombela Stadium on Saturday the writing is surely on the wall for Foster. The All Blacks were playing the world champions on home turf and it was never going to be easy, but the best teams can win away from home. 

The South Africans have the edge in first half

The Springboks scored an early try after a mess-up in the visitor’s defence when two All Blacks got in the way of Jordie Barrett trying to take a high kick. The ball was snapped up by the home team who ran Kurt-Lee Arendse in for a try in the corner. The superb goal kicker Handre Pollard added the two points from the sideline. 

The All Blacks tackling was excellent as was the throwing into the lineout by Samison Taukei’avo. As it happened, experienced Boks hooker, Malcolm Marx, threw one to the All Blacks. However, the visitors were out-scrummaged and three times prop Angus Ta’avao was guilty of illegal wheeling or pulling the scrum down. A more astute coach would have replaced him after the third offence. The home team had the better of the loose and, one of the players of the match, Malcolm Marx won two quality turn-overs. 

As in the Irish tests there was too much kicking possession away with David Havilli, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett all being guilty of booting the ball down the throats of South African back markers.

The visitors had the occasional good move on attack with one involving Beauden Barrett breaking out from the goal line getting to half way. 

The Springboks get away in the second half

Once again Sam Cane was an honest toiler and made plenty of tackles, but didn’t assert his captaincy sufficiently on the field. Like the coach, his position is definitely under threat.

Neither side looked like scoring until the last five minutes. There was a chance for the All Blacks early in the second half when Ardie Savea sent Will Jordan away with an inside pass in mid-field and a try might have been on but for a fortuitous ankle tap by a despairing Springbok defender.

South Africa kept the scoreboard ticking over from the reliable boot of Pollard who put the ball between the posts with a drop kick and a penalty. With five minutes to go All Black left winger Caleb Clarke had a 60 minute run in mid field only to be brought down 5 metres from the line. Reserve Shannon Frizzell was on hand to gather the ball in and score near the corner. That made the score 19-10. The All Blacks kept trying to speed the game up with quick passing, but Frizzell dropped a pass 15 metres out and evergreen Springboks reserve, Willie le Roux, dribbled it through to score by the posts.

Well beaten

On the day South Africa was clearly the better team. They won more turnovers, lost only two of  their lineout throws and were superior in the scrums until the New Zealand coaches brought on the front row reserves. Both side tackled very well and the gaps were just not there to make the breaks. Generally the Springboks bustled the All Blacks who couldn’t play their natural running game and the accurate high kicks by half back Jaden Hendrikse were generally muffed by the visitors.

Next week the second test will be played in Johannesburg. It would be a brave man who bets against the South Africans.