Rugby-Foster says All Blacks were improved despite heavy defeat to Boks

Rugby Union - Rugby Championship - South Africa v New Zealand - Mbombela Stadium, Mbombela, South Africa - August 6, 2022 New Zealand head coach Ian Foster REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

NELSPRUIT, South Africa (Reuters) - New Zealand coach Ian Foster says his side have improved their performance from the historic 2-1 home series loss to Ireland, despite a heaviest defeat by South Africa in 94 years at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

The Springboks' power game, dominance of the ruck and superiority under the high ball was too much for the All Blacks, who lost 26-10 to get their Rugby Championship campaign off to a disappointing start.

It is a fifth defeat in six games for Foster, who was already under pressure before the game but will now have further questions asked of his ability to lead the team a little over a year out from the Rugby World Cup in France.

But he remains defiant and says there were aspects of the All Blacks’ performance that pleased him greatly, and says they will be better in the second Rugby Championship encounter against the Boks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Aug. 13.

"Congratulations to South Africa, they were more clinical than us," Foster said. "They played their (style of) game well... under pressure they went to the kicking game and that put us under a lot of pressure.

"For us, I actually thought it was a step up in performance from the last series. The line-out worked well, the maul defence was good and our overall defence was pretty solid.

"We perhaps just missed a little bit of timing in terms of our attack. We will have to go and look at that."

New Zealand conceded 11 penalties to the Boks’ seven, but Foster says that is all down to the pressure put on his team.

"It felt like we weren’t getting the rub of the green in the first 20 minutes and that put us behind a little bit," he said.

"The third quarter was critical for us in terms of getting back into the game, but all the Springboks did was carry hard and get a few penalties. That is their game, which is a pressure game.

"You saw as the match unfolded the opportunities did start to come, there were just a couple of handling errors. I thought we made some strides (forward), but we have to prove that next week."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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