Wallabies are 'way off the mark'
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie was left frustrated after his team's capitulation to the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday.
It has been a tough baptism for McKenzie since he took over from Robbie Deans after the British and Irish Lions series, and although he was able to draw some positives out of their performance in Cape Town, they were considerably outweighed by the negatives.
The visitors were forced to chase the game after South Africa made a strong start, and although they showed good character to deny the Boks a bonus point, McKenzie admitted that they are still some way off where they need to be.
"We know that we have actually made progress in key areas, but I don't want to sit here and bore you with the details, the reality is that we didn't get the game right, we were 20 points off and we are way off the mark at the moment.
"There are parts of the game which are improving, but it is the totality of the game that we have got to get right. There is no point having good bits of the game and poor bits we have got to get a better outcome in all areas," he said.
The Wallabies coach said that the poor start to the game had put them under pressure as the Boks held on to the ball and forced them to defend for long periods.
"We played without the ball for the first half of the game and we were a bit more competitive in the second half and showed a bit more character and ticker but it was very hard chasing the scoreboard.
"We didn't effectively get out of our half, we tried and probably ended up over-kicking. The referee was pretty strong on refereeing the defensive side which was mainly us.
"After 30 minutes the Springboks had only made eight tackles, so we hadn't played much with the ball at all and the penalties were against us and we were stuck in our half," he said.
Much has been made of the style of play that the Wallabies have adopted under McKenzie, as after preaching an attacking philosophy he had decided to try a more balanced approach this week, but he admitted that they did not get it right.
"We didn't get the balance right, in the end you have got to feel the game, you can have all the views you like about how the game is going to pan out, but if it is not panning out then you need to make adjustments.
"We were a bit slow off the mark in terms of making that adjustment, that is what the game is about in the end, you can have the ideas but you have to work with what is happening on the field and we were a bit slow in making those adjustments," he said.
One of the more encouraging aspects for McKenzie was the spirit his side showed on defence, but it was little more than a silver lining to a pretty dark cloud hanging over them after the 28-8 defeat.
"Defence is a measure of character and I know that we have made progress in that area and I think it showed with our two yellow cards, we hung in there grimly and did the job.
"But there were times on attack where we missed opportunities, so it is a combination of things that are letting us down consistently and it is very frustrating at the moment but all we can do is keep plugging away and the wheel will turn.
"We did well in parts today but the good teams do well for longer periods and they grab their moments, we did not grab our moments.
"That is about composure under pressure and we are lacking composure in key moments, you either learn to deal with that or you can't handle it," he said.
The Wallabies coach said that his side will have to mature if they are to compete with the likes of the Springboks and the All Blacks.
"I feel like I say it every second week but there is a maturity aspect which we need to develop. The guys are battling away and certainly playing with more character now but there are execution errors that are just keeping us under pressure.
"That being said I think we have made a fair bit of progress, it doesn't show on the scoreboard at the moment, but I think if we persist we will get there," he said.
By Michael de Vries