Peter de Villiers lamented the Springboks’ loose start against Namibia but commended their ability to readjust their tactics after half-time.
In the build up this fixture, the Boks had spoken about employing a more direct approach and said they would not be striving for the much talked about century of points. But after Gio Aplon scored early on, South Africa lost structure, shifting the ball quickly without establishing the necessary foundations. They forced too many passes and thus conceded too many handling errors.
De Villiers said the team was told to tighten up after half-time, and the change in tactics certainly paid dividends. The Boks piled a further 56 points onto their scorecard and maintained their defensive discipline to keep the Namibians tryless.
‘We started too loose, but credit to John [Smit] for getting the guys together,’ said the Bok coach. ‘It was a brilliant game, it was loose in the beginning but we did well to come back.
‘Sometimes you get it right [on attack] but most of the time you get it wrong. We knew that a small team would come out firing but sometimes a small team will realise that the task is too big and [give up] in the last 20 minutes. We kept working hard and did well to keep at them in the last quarter and get those tries.’
The Boks scored 12 tries in all, but the captain again called for perspective following the one-sided victory. Smit reiterated that the Boks are looking to build their own game before the play-offs, and while they take the opposition strengths and weaknesses into account before playing a pool match, their own progress is priority.
‘We’ve put in systems to see how accurate we’ve been in particular roles, and a lot of analysis will follow a game like this,’ said Smit. ‘It’s important that we keep being hard on ourselves, as we have certain standards and goals that we want to achieve. We will have a little break now and then come back on Monday morning and see where we are at.
‘We knew the challenge Samoa [the Boks' next opponents] would present before we got to New Zealand so it will be good to get some rest before preparing for that [physical] game. We saw how they played against Wales so we will have to improve on a few things before we meet them next week.’
The lineout wobbled in the early stages but the scrum delivered a powerful showing against outclassed opposition. Smit said he was particularly pleased with the latter set-piece.
‘CJ [van der Linde] really dominated at tighthead, and that allowed myself and Gurthro [Steenkamp] to play well in the front row. Along with our defence, it it probably one of the areas where we’ve worked hardest on during the week.
‘There will be bigger tests in future, but it was a step forward.’
By Jon Cardinelli, at North Harbour Stadium