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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 01:13 GMT 02:13 UK
Marshall: Pressure told on Aussies
New Zealand's Justin Marshall

Australia know all about winning big games but a rare combination of physical and mental pressure did for them in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The physical pressure South Africa applied is nothing new.

But the Wallabies also had to try to cope with the added mental burden of knowing exactly what they had to do to hold on to their Tri-Nations crown.

They said they weren't thinking about the points differential they had to make up to overhaul New Zealand, they were just focusing on the win.


I wouldn't say South Africa are a dirty team but they are physical and confrontational
Justin Marshall

I'm sure they were trying to, but in that situation it's always in the back of your mind what's required.

You've got to say they were thinking about it and maybe the enormity of the task distracted them.

Australia played pretty well but defensively they had one or two lapses and they didn't retain the ball for the lengthy periods they normally do.

They coughed it up or kicked it away more than usual, maybe because of the altitude or because they were tiring.

But that mental pressure will have played a part as well and I was really satisfied that we managed to set them a big target to chase.

I had expected them to win but, at the same time, the Springboks' victory was not a complete shock.

South Africa had nothing to lose and they played a type of game Australia probably hadn't faced in the Tri-Nations, as well as with a real physical edge they don't really like.

I wasn't surprised to see George Gregan complaining about foul play from the South Africans.

Gregan feels the force of the Boks' challenge
Gregan feels the force of the Boks' challenge
New Zealand don't have a problem when we play South Africa, but I know from talking to George that Australia do.

The rivalry between those two is on a different scale to the one New Zealand have with South Africa, which has more tradition and respect.

The rivalry between South Africa and Australia does not have anything like the same history and so it does not have that basis.

Because of that, Australia-South Africa games always seem to be very niggly.

George has said to me that when they play the Boks they expect a pretty rough sort of game.

That is partly a reflection of the tough nature of the South African game and partly a recognition that this is the way the Boks must play to win.

That is not the way Australia like to play. They prefer to move the ball and be less confrontational.

The two styles don't mix and that is maybe why flashpoints occur.

With New Zealand, though, we are happy to move the ball when we play Australia and when the Boks muscle up on us we aren't too fazed by that either.

I wouldn't say South Africa are a dirty team but they are physical and confrontational.

And when a game is physical and confrontational there are a lot of things that happen off the ball.

You get smashed harder when you are cleared out at ruck time and when there are five or six bodies on the floor, you'd be amazed at how little the television cameras pick up.

But that is part of the game - especially an Australia v South Africa game.


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