‘All Blacks can be beaten’

Date published: October 28 2015

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South African defence coach John McFarland believes that the All Blacks are not as invincible as they may at times seem.

Steve Hansen's New Zealand side head into Saturday's World Cup final having lost just three times in the past four years, to England in 2012, to South Africa last year and to Australia in August.

It's an intimidating record, and the All Blacks arrived in England as strong favourites to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy for the third time.

After a slow start in the pool stages, the All Blacks hammered France 62-13 in the quarter-finals before showing they are just as competent in tight games by edging the Springboks 20-18 in a titanic battle at Twickenham last Saturday.

However, while the South Africans were unable to triumph over New Zealand, McFarland has no doubts that they are not unbeatable, having handed the Springboks points scoring opportunities through ill-discipline at set piece time.

"We actually had six set pieces in their half – two scrums and four line-outs," McFarland told the Daily Telegraph.

"Four out of our six set pieces they gave us 12 points.

"So we could not build any pressure and in the grey area around the halfway line, we lost line-out ball. So we never really got into their half at all and when we did, they gave us 12 points.

"You can only play what they give you."

He added: "It's a bit late now for me to say that, but yes they are beatable. I thought the players did us proud, I really did. They gave everything and worked so hard."

The Springboks led 12-7 at half-time, with the All Blacks down to 14 men after Jerome Kaino's 39th minute sin-binning, but Daniel Carter was able to reduce the deficit to 12-10 with a drop goal shortly after the break.

The South Africans would then be dealt a late blow when a penalty in the All Blacks' half was turned around after an infringement from Victor Matfield. It's these two incidents which McFarland believes were the "small margins" that changed the game.

"The key turning point for me was the dropped goal," he said.

"That gave them hope. I am not sure off that line-out how the ball came so quickly back into his hands.

"A turning point as well was ­Victor's neck roll, because that was our penalty. Kick that and it is 21-20. It is small margins."

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