PdV: ‘It’s half-time’

Peter de Villiers refuses to speculate about the Springboks’ chances of securing the Tri-Nations title despite the prospect of having to win just one of their three remaining matches.

The Springboks, with a clean sweep of their home matches, will now hope Australia beat New Zealand on 22 August, which would leave them with the likely scenario of having to win one of their two matches in Australia or their Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton to clinch a title they last won in 2004.

Tri-Nations success would cap a fine year for the Springboks, in which they beat the British & Irish Lions, and smashed the Blacks in a two-Test series. De Villiers, however, wouldn’t allow himself to dream just yet.

‘It’s half-time now in terms of our campaign, and in the same way we struggled after half-time in this specific Test, we could struggle after half-time in this campaign,’ De Villiers told keo.co.za.

‘These home results won’t help us going forward, but that said, we do believe we are good enough to step up to the challenge of touring and we’ll be doing everything in our power to be successful.’

Asked for his overall assessment of his side’s performance De Villiers said, ‘As a coach you are never satisfied and you can always get better.

‘I was pleased with how we operated as a team. We’ve come a long way and have built trust within this group and that showed in our performance this evening.

‘I was also pleased with the way we played under pressure in the second half,’ De Villiers continued. ‘They didn’t allow us to get into our pattern, yet we managed to score some crucial points.’

The Springboks struck a telling blow in the 28th minute when Victor Matfield crossed to make it 20-10. Captain John Smit, who featured in the build up to the try with a deft grubber, identified that score and Morne Steyn’s penalty just before the break to extend the lead to 13, as decisive to the outcome.

‘Those two scores proved to be invaluable because as much as we tried to play in the second half, they were pretty accurate in blunting our attacks.’

Smit also lauded their discipline at ruck time. It once again proved to be a significant factor in the outcome, with the Wallabies conceding seven kickable penalties, all of which Morne Steyn sunk.

‘It’s something we’ve prioritised in the last couple of weeks and I think we can pride ourselves on our accuracy at the breakdown,’ Smit said. ‘The pressure we exerted there forced them to overstep the line and that’s a massive positive to take out of this match.’

By Ryan Vrede, at Newlands