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Lost opportunities cost NZ

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Sportal.co.nz     21 Aug 2011     Getty Images

While the loss provided South Africa with their only win of the Tri Nations, it left New Zealand needing to beat Australia in Brisbane on Saturday if they are to claim the title ahead of the World Cup.

New Zealand's selectors, Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith faced a long night as they put the final pieces in place in their squad to be named on Tuesday for the World Cup.

However, some players who miss out are likely to return to New Zealand instead of continuing on to Brisbane when the team flies out later on Sunday.

Coach Graham Henry told SkySport the side had enough opportunities to win but failed to complete them.

"At least half a dozen opportunities were created but it was frustrating they were not taken," he said.

"We learnt a lot, a lot about players."

"The Springboks played well, with good structure. Their scrambled defence worked well and they played with passion."

Henry had no regrets about naming a less experienced side for the game and leaving key players at home. He said they had no choice.

Henry was disappointed with the ruling which saw a try disallowed to halfback Jimmy Cowan when the Television Match Official over-stepped his authority under the laws as they exist.

"That is not part of the deal," said Henry.

The game had been a learning experience. Henry said first five-eighths Colin Slade had 'not a great game, not a poor game'. He had cramped up midway through the second half and was replaced by Piri Weepu.

In terms of the likes of fullback Israel Dagg, wing Isaia Toeava and centre Richard Kahui's return Henry said the number of opportunities created had demonstrated their roles in the game.

Captain for the night Keven Mealamu felt the side was probably 10 percent off their game and again talked of the missed opportunities.

"The South African defence was outstanding but we worked bloody hard. We were not far off it. We probably were caught in our own half too much and they capitalised on it," he said.

Dagg said he had been excited to be back out in the middle and was disappointed not to get the win. Plenty of opportunities had been created but silly penalties were conceded and cost the side.

Loose forward Jerome Kaino said he felt the side put together some good plays, got over the advantage line on several occasions but were unable to finish things off. He also said it took the side a little long to react to the South African physicality at the breakdown and left it too late to react.