Despite a five-try victory over the Wallabies, Heyneke Meyer says the Springboks will need to be more clinical when they play the All Blacks next week.
The Boks thrashed the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld, recording a four-try bonus point for the first time in the 2012 Rugby Championship. This result also marked an end to South Africa’s four-Test losing streak against the Wallabies.
The opportunity to win the tournament has long passed, but Saturday’s result is one to celebrate for a Bok team that is still building.
While Meyer was pleased to record his first win since the Boks beat Argentina in Cape Town, he said that people shouldn’t get too excited after the Wallabies thumping, and that there is much to improve before the Boks’ next Test against the All Blacks.
‘We have very high standards, and there were three more tries that we should have scored,’ the Bok coach said. ‘It’s great to come home and win, and we haven’t beaten the Aussies for some time, but we have to start taking those opportunities.
‘We would like to score more tries next week but we are aware of the challenge of playing the world champions.’
The Boks produced their best attacking performance of the year against the Wallabies, but then they owe that success to the superior showing up front.
New flyhalf Johan Goosen certainly provided the Boks with more impetus on attack, but there was no change to the game plan, as Jean de Villiers confirmed afterwards.
‘We haven’t changed one thing,’ said the Bok captain. ‘The thing that has changed is that we are now capitalising on the pressure we put on the opposition.
‘We have shown that we can create, and now we are starting to finish. It’s not that we went out there with a more attacking mindset. It was more about playing the situation.
‘If the opposition leave men back, then obviously there is more space to attack from close. If they bring men up, then you will kick to the back to find the space. No defence is watertight, there is always space. It’s about finding out where that space is and exploiting it.
‘We played fantastically today in terms of territory,’ De Villiers added. ‘We spent most of the game in their half. I was also very pleased with the way we pressured them at the breakdown.’
Meyer built on this statement, lauding his forwards for such a fine effort. He also singled out Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen, not for their linking play, but for their efforts at the rucks.
‘I thought our loose forwards were awesome against New Zealand,’ said Meyer. ‘And today – Flo, that’s the type of player I want. I thought he was really outstanding, and both he and Duane have added an extra dimension with what they offer on the ground.
‘I’m not happy that we didn’t finish those three opportunities, but we were good at the breakdown. We also scrummed superbly and the lineout was very good.’
But again, Meyer tempered all of this praise by putting the Boks’ situation into perspective. The Boks have a date with the All Blacks in Soweto on 6 October, and there’s little doubt that the All Blacks will be far more difficult to breach.
‘New Zealand are a very settled side. In terms of defence, they have a number of experienced players who have been in that system for ages. They’re the world champions and one of the reasons for that is their defence.
‘It’s going to be really difficult to create and score against them. We will need to be more patient with ball in hand, more tactically astute. If we get scoring opportunities, we will need to make them count.
‘We are the only team that has played three matches away in a row. The All Blacks will come here now [after being in Argentina], and we are hoping that South Africa will get behind us. It is always harder for visiting teams to win on the Highveld too,’ he added.
By Jon Cardinelli, at Loftus Versfeld