Dunedin Stadium not cause of dismal kicking
A top stadium administrator says Morne Steyn's goal-kicking meltdown had nothing to with the enclosed Forsyth Barr Stadium's mysterious breeze.
The Springboks were left lamenting their poor kicking returns as Steyn, Frans Steyn and Johan Goosen slotted just two of their nine attempts during their 21-11 defeat to the All Blacks.
Stadium chief executive David Davies said it was too simplistic to blame the covered stadium which has gaps at the bottom and top.
This is to encourage grass growth and allow hot air to escape. There is a suspicion these gaps also create a breeze which makes it difficult for goal kickers.
Springboks first five-eighth Steyn had a shocking night, kicking one from five, while Aaron Cruden's analysis read four from seven for the All Blacks. "In my view it was just two kickers [Steyn and Cruden] who were just off their game," Davies said.
"Frans Steyn missed a couple of long-range efforts and he has missed a lot of those in stadiums because they are on offer to take.
"The stats for those type of kicks, in terms of success, are lower anyway."
Davies maintained the stats at the Dunedin arena were no worse than at any other ground in New Zealand during the Super Rugby competition.
Super Rugby kickers succeeded with 65 per cent at the stadium and it was just 54 during the World Cup.
"My view is there was nothing atmospherically [to blame for the missed kicks]," Davies added.
"The reality is that, at times, people kick badly and are looking for any excuse."
Springboks captain Jean de Villiers suggested the adidas ball may have also contributed to his kickers' malaise, noting they are used to playing with the Gilbert brand in South Africa.
“It was a different ball and we saw the goal kickers in the World Cup, as well, [struggle] in this stadium. Unfortunately he [Morne Steyn] didn't kick all his goals this week but that doesn't make him a bad player."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he had no complaints, noting Cruden's return was “not too bad".
"I guess it's something new to kick in," Hansen stated. "You just have to adjust to it. Some guys can and others can't."
The Springboks also blew several try-scoring chances; a wild pass to Bryan Habana in the opening minutes sailed into touch and replacement prop Dean Greyling lost the ball close to the tryline in the second half.
Although absorbing - it was not a test match that sparkled with highlights - a reflection of the new Rugby Championship.
Referee George Clancy blasted both sides at the breakdown and issued a total of 15 penalties as both sides attempted to lounge on the wrong side of the ruck or didn't release quick enough.
Hansen had no gripes.
He defended what has been a dour competition.
"Last night's game was just a huge, physical test match and when you get physical test matches sometimes the flow doesn't go the way you would like it to.
"By and large I think it is OK."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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