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Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam

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'I just want everyone to know we got his back': Ardie Savea on head coach Ian Foster

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

All Blacks No 8 Ardie Savea has thrown his support behind Ian Foster ‘100 per cent’ after the All Blacks secured a 35-23 win over the Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

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After a 26-10 defeat to South Africa last week, the visitors were under siege for the latest string of results which saw the side slip to a worst-ever fifth place in the World rankings.

When asked if the improved performance by the team was for Ian Foster, Savea explained that it was for everyone but he personally supports his head coach unequivocally.

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“It was for all of us, but for me personally that is for my coach,” Savea told media in the post-match press conference.

“I back him 100 per cent side-by-side. He’s been under a lot of pressure but I know Foz doesn’t want to make it about himself.

“I just want everyone to know we got his back, all the players have got his back. He’s a great coach, got great coaches beside him so we back him 100 per cent.

“I hope everyone that listens, that reads this, back us, because we gone get it.”

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The No 8 had a fast start into the game by breaking away down the left hand side after a cross field kick by David Havili, he busted through the tackle of Jesse Kriel on the outside and almost went the distance.

An infringement at the ruck by fullback Damian Willemse led to a yellow card but the All Blacks could not capitalise with 14 men as the Springboks held ground and kept them out.

The All Blacks also showed desperation in defence with a cover tackle by Jordie Barrett on Pieter-Steph du Toit saving a would-be try at the other end shortly after.

Savea said the desperation of the side played a part in turning round the result, with the forwards stepping up to nullify the Springboks’ pack.

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“I think it was probably our desperation and our want in the boys to go out there and perform,” Savea said.

“We knew that our forward pack had to front up in order for us to get the W.

“We knew they were going to drive and come at us and we felt like we nullified that a little bit.

“I’m just pleased after everything that has been going on to come away with the boys and get the win.”

The All Blacks showed improvement in all the areas they had troubled with in Neilsprit, with the elevation of Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax to the starting side helping shore up the scrum.

The Springboks pulled third string hooker Joseph Dweba off after just 29 minutes to try and gain back some ascendency at the set-piece while all the South African prop replacements came on with five minutes remaining in the first half.

They also showed improvement in the aerial game with Jordie Barrett getting some assistance from the ground to catch the high balls safely, while the All Blacks’ attack sparked into life with the promotion of Richie Mo’unga at No 10.

In the quest for answers, Savea said the internal belief never wavered in the face of adversity and the building pressure surrounding the team ended up bringing the best out of the side.

“We always believe in each other. I feel like the last couple weeks this team has been through some adversity,” he said.

“I feel like, in life and in sport, when you go through adversity it brings the best out of people.

“I saw something from you saying that belief only takes us so far during the week. [Belief] took us pretty far this week.

“I’m just proud of everyone in this team to be able to step up, especially at Ellis Park, it’s bloody hard. I’m tired, knackered, can’t wait to hit the sack.”

Savea was measured in declaring this game the turning point for the embattled All Blacks looking to climb back up the global standings but said it was a building block and a start.

“It’s a start. The boys are chuffed, they are stoked to get the W, but in the back of our mind it is only a start,” he said.

“Hopefully we can build on this, take confidence out of what we’ve done. Jason[Ryan’s] done an amazing job of coming in and directing our forward pack.”

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