Peter de Villiers says that Friday’s clash served as ideal preparation for the quarter-finals but doubts the Wallabies or All Blacks will be as physical as Samoa.
The Boks controlled the game in the first stanza but barely managed to keep the islanders at bay in the final quarter. They have now won all four of their pool games, but are yet to deliver a performance worthy of title-contenders.
Despite the obvious failings, the Springbok coach was in high spirits following South Africa’s 13-5 win at North Harbour Stadium.
‘We didn’t plan for it, but this kind of preparation will be valuable for us going forward in the tournament. You will never find a more physical game again in the World Cup,’ said De Villiers.
‘We knew they’d be up for it, we knew they’d be confrontational. They beat Australia three months ago and they gave Wales a good game. It was brilliant that we could beat them.
‘I think we played the complete game tonight. We attacked in the first half and then our defence didn’t let us down in the second. We were under more pressure in the second. I thought our decision making was good.’
De Villiers comments are not in synch with the stats. The Boks blew a series of attacking opportunities in the first half, and missed 21 tackles in the second.
Bok captain Victor Matfield also felt the nature of this contest would benefit the side going forward. Unless Italy upset Ireland, the Boks will play the Wallabies in the quarter-final, a team that outmuscled them when the sides last met in Durban.
The Boks will also be hoping that injuries sustained in this clash don’t preclude the first-choice stars from next week’s do-or-die clash.
‘It was very physical and we’re happy we’ve got some preparation in that respect, but then you lose a bit with regards to injuries. We may have to take an extra day to recover,’ said Matfield.
Both the South Africans and the Samoans expressed their disappointment in referee Nigel Owens. The game was an ill-tempered contest, and culminated in a red card for Samoa fullback Paul Williams, and a yellow card for Bok hooker John Smit.
Matfield maintains that the Boks showed good discipline, and stayed out of the off-the-ball ‘crap’. Coach De Villiers said Smit should never have been carded for a deliberate knock down when Samoa were on attack in the 69th minute.
‘It was a stupid, stupid decision to get him off the field there,’ said De Villiers. ‘He didn’t deserve that yellow card. But then again in the heat of the game we aren’t here to judge referees. He will sit and watch the game and he will make up his own mind. He will say he’s justified.’
Some will say that Samoa should view it as a moral victory to have pushed the defending champions so close. Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger, however, said there was a lot of disappointment in the changing room after the game.
He felt that Owens was inconsistent at the breakdown and never should have sent off Williams for his alleged punch on Heinrich Brussow.
‘The ref was pretty hard on us,’ said Schwalger. ‘A few calls on the field… well we thought if it goes our way we would be able to put more points on the board.
‘A lot of the time they were slowing our ball down. For me, the ref has got to give us a chance as well. I felt it was one-way. Even in the scrum they cheated a little bit. Unfortunately we can’t change the result.
‘As for the sending off, there was a bit of acting there. There was nothing in that. To give him a red card, that was a little bit harsh.’
Samoa assistant coach Aussie MacLean was also in no mood to talk about moral victories. Asked it Samoa had shown the All Blacks how to beat the Boks, he said: ‘I don’t want to go down that track, because now that we’re out, I want the All Blacks to beat them.’
By Jon Cardinelli, at North Harbour Stadium