Marika Koroibete of the Wallabies is congratulated by team mates. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images),;
Frustrated South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber rued missed opportunities and handling errors for costing them their Rugby Championship match against Australia, but said lessons had been learned for the second Test next weekend.
After conceding a try in the opening minute, the world champion Springboks dominated possession in the first half at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, but despite intense pressure, failed to make it count and trailed 10-3 at the break.
They finished strongly with two late Kwagga Smith tries to deny the tiring Wallabies a bonus point, but their lack of finishing in the first 40 minutes proved decisive and they crashed 25-17.
Nienaber noted a similar scenario in their recent Test against Wales and a fortnight ago against New Zealand, when they created plenty of chances but didn’t capitalise.
“It was frustrating how many opportunities we created but didn’t convert into points,” he said. “It is something that has happened in our last few games, so we will work hard to correct that.
“We were in Australia’s 22 about 13 times, if not more, and we didn’t come away with points a lot of the time, and when they were in our 22, they used their chances well and got the rewards for it.”
Defeat left the World Cup winners propping up the Rugby Championship table with just one win from three, trailing surprise leaders Argentina, who sit on top after their stunning 25-18 upset of the All Blacks in New Zealand.
“We will have a good review of the game, take the lessons learned, and ensure that we are up for next week’s clash in Sydney,” added Nienaber.
“The nice thing is that we will have another chance against Australia in seven days and hopefully we will be able to turn things around.”
Captain Siya Kolisi also pointed to handling errors as a problem to fix.
“Our last passes didn’t go to hand, but as coach Jacques always says, no one intentionally knocks on the ball,” he said.
“Our set-pieces were good, but we can always get better, so we will go back and review the game, and we are looking forward to the next clash against them.”
In contrast, it was one of the Wallabies’ best performances this year, with a mighty defensive effort and well-worked attacking set-pieces earning them the win.
They did lose six lineouts on their own throw in a game to forget for returning hooker Folau Fainga’a, which allowed the Springboks to build constant pressure. They also conceded 16 penalties to South Africa’s nine.
But overall coach Dave Rennie was a happy man after a much better performance from a team that was dismantled 48-17 by the Pumas in San Juan this month.
“We prepared really well and whilst that’s no guarantee for performance, we’re rapt with how we started,” said Rennie after Australia extended their unbeaten home streak against South Africa to eight games.
“We showed an enormous amount of character for about 20 minutes, and at times down to 14 (in the first half).
“You saw great examples with a really important scrum where we won a penalty, and Marika Koroibete getting across with the try-saving tackle.”
Australia’s task now is to record consecutive victories, a feat they have failed to achieve this season – winning three Tests against England, Argentina and South Africa but also losing three.
“We’re well aware of the challenge next week and backing it up,” said Rennie.