Matfield raises breakdown concerns
Veteran lock Victor Matfield is concerned about the refereeing of the breakdown after South Africa lost their second successive Tri-Nations match to New Zealand in Wellington.
Matfield, his skipper John Smit and coach Pieter de Villiers were clearly unhappy with the way Irishmen Alan Lewis and Alain Rolland have policed the tackle-ball area in the back-to-back Test defeats, going down 32-12 and then 31-17, where the All Blacks have been able to pilfer South African ball or at least disrupt it.
"I felt we couldn't get quick ball," said Matfield. "In the Super 14 they got the tackler away much quicker and that's not happening at the moment. "But again we want to adapt to the referee and we didn't do it. We've had them [northern hemisphere referees] two weeks now and in the Super 14 it was definitely quicker."
De Villiers pulled no punches, calling for greater consistency.
"We have played six (Test matches this year) and in the six games we've had six different types of plays on the ground. It's frustrating," he said.
"We've got the same skill we had last year when we won the Tri-Nations. We're so used to playing the new laws in the Super 14 and now in the six games we've played they are different.
"I don't like to prepare guys to cheat and it seems to me that's the only way going forward if you want to be on top of those kind of things. That's 70 percent of your game."
Smit was more circumspect when asked how he felt about New Zealand captain Richie McCaw being warned several times but not shown a yellow card for repeated ruck infringements.
"I suppose if it had been my first year playing against the All Blacks I'd be surprised. But it's not my first year," he replied.
Matfield believed that lack of quick ruck ball meant his side wasn't able to play the running rugby it had wanted to and was forced to resort again to the kick-chase game which ultimately proved fruitless. "It's about creating quick ball and then you can play and you can keep the ball. At the moment if you don't create quick ball it's sometimes better to do the kicks."