VIDEO: Bring on the All Blacks
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: South Africa’s coach, Rassie Erasmus, admitted that New Zealand will prove to be a far more formidable foe in Pretoria this coming Saturday.
The Springboks continued their upward curve with a 23-12 win over Australia in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
However, Erasmus admitted the Boks will have to be more clinical when they tackle the world’s top-ranked team, the All Blacks, at Loftus Versfeld.
The Springboks triumphed at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium by scoring two tries to lead 20-12 at half-time, then gave an impressive second-half defensive performance in the Round Five encounter.
“Next week is going to be a tough challenge, because New Zealand has faced our defence now and they would make a few plans for that,” Erasmus said of the encounter in Pretoria.
Erasmus said he would be happy if his team could replicate the attacking performance they produced in Wellington earlier this month – to pull off a stunning 36-34 triumph.
“If we attack as we did in Wellington, where we scored five tries, it will be fantastic,” the coach said.
“But I think it won’t be that easy.”
Erasmus said his team created more chances against the Wallabies, than what they did against the All Blacks.
“I thought if we scored from one or two more of them [chances in PE] it would have been a different story, but there are things we have to improve on.
“If we leave as many opportunities out there next week, it will be a tough game to win [in Pretoria].”
Erasmus said the team’s ability to win, despite the rash of changes in the build-up to the match, was one of the biggest positives from a scrappy performance.
“The last few months, when we made changes [to the team], we lost the matches,” he said, adding: “We made eight changes, either positional or as the result of injury, with new caps coming in.
“After a Test in which we beat New Zealand, to make eight changes and beat Australia is a positive.
“To win games while we make changes is a positive.”
The coach felt his team didn’t play tactically well in the second half, but praised the guts and character the players showed.
“Although we didn’t score many tries, we created a lot of opportunities.
“In the end, it was a close game, because they played territory so well.”
Erasmus said he is not too concerned that the Rugby Championship has already been won by New Zealand – who now have 21 points from their five matches, seven points clear of second-placed South Africa with just one round remaining.
“We want to grow as a team,” the coach said, adding: “It is our first year together and we have grown as a team and that was our ultimate goal.”
Erasmus admitted that there is still some work to be done of their defensive structure, but felt the growth has been significant.
“With the [defence] system we have, if you have made mistakes on defence at the highest level, it is not something you can read in a book or do at training sessions.
“It is only by making mistakes, then making fewer mistakes and getting it right.
“Overall the guys are getting the hang of it.”