Meyer: ‘We need to keep improving’

Heyneke Meyer was satisfied with a winning start to the Rugby Championship, but admitted his disappointment in missing out on a four-try bonus point against Argentina.

The Springboks recorded a comfortable 27-6 victory at Newlands, but there was a sense that their mission was incomplete as the hosts missed out on a valuable four-try bonus point.

South Africa dominated most of the match and had the entire final quarter to search for a fourth try, following wing Bryan Habana’s impressive score in the 57th minute. However, the Boks lacked the killer blow as they created promising opportunities, but failed to convert them.

Meyer pointed to the Pumas’ impressive defensive effort for their attacking struggles in the final 20 minutes of the match.

‘I think a lot of people underestimate Argentina,’ Meyer told keo.co.za. ‘This is still a Test match and I knew this was going to be a low-scoring game. If you look at previous Tests, there haven’t been many big results against them.

‘Argentina did very well on defence and some of their tactics paid off, like their rushed defence in the midfield. They also competed very well under the high ball and at the breakdowns. Many of their players have played in Europe, where there’s a strong focus on the breakdown battle, and those expertise was evident during the match.’

Meyer was happy with the stronger sense of cohesion among his players, and stressed that the team will need to continue improving as the tournament progresses.

There will be certain facets of play the Boks will need to focus on ahead of their Test against the Pumas in Mendoza, which will be a much bigger challenge as the South Americans are known to perform much better on home soil.

‘We need to recycle the ball much quicker at the breakdown,’ said Meyer. ‘That’s one of the main things we need to look at. We want more competition at the lineouts. There were times where we contended well, but it can improve.’

Meanwhile, Meyer added that he was impressed by the performances of Morne Steyn and lock Andries Bekker. Steyn has been critcised for his poor performance during the Test series against England, while Bekker played his first Test in two years.

‘I had a good feeling Morne was going to do well,’ said Meyer. ‘He looked very good at training and proved his quality during the win over Argentina.

‘Andries also impressed during the lineouts and in general play. He wants to step out of Victor Matfield’s shadow, and I think this was a step in the right direction.’

By Gareth Duncan, at Newlands