Nienaber pinpoints what Boks need to fix
REACTION: Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has promised his team will come back stronger in 2022 after ending this year on a dire note.
The World Champions’ hopes of an unbeaten November Series campaign was dashed with a narrow 26-27 defeat to England on Saturday.
England flyhalf Marcus Smith kicked a penalty goal in the 79th minute to edge his side to victory after the Boks had shown great character to come back from a five-point halftime deficit (17-12).
*READ: MATCH REPORT!
The Boks outscored England in the second half (14-10) – the 24th time they have managed that in the past 28 matches – but it wasn’t quite enough for victory this time.
Instead, they saw a winning lead turned over at the death once again, having previously suffered the same fate against Australia and New Zealand during the Rugby Championship.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Nienaber admitted it was disappointing to see his team lose at the death for the third time this year.
“This was a spanner in the wheel,” Nienaber said, adding: “It would have been lovely to end the year with a win.
“This is the third time this year that we have lost the game when we’ve been leading by one or two points up to the 79th minute, so it’s very disappointing.
“It’s something that we’ll have to look at and improve on.
“I told the team in the change room afterwards that they’re better than our winning percentage this season (62 persent), which is skewed by the loss of those close games,”
Mr. Fix It
Nienaber said he had learnt much this season and was already plotting how to improve in the next season.
The Boks ended the season with eight wins from 13 matches, scoring 334 points and conceding 224.
“We have now played a full year of rugby again and we know where we are,” Nienaber said.
“I don’t want to go into detail but there are things that we want to work on – our execution of opportunities can be better for one. The good thing is, we have one and a half years to improve going into France 2023,”
Another big concern for Nienaber was the team’s defence which saw them concede three tries against England.
“It was very disappointing and very out of character. We don’t normally concede from a setpiece and it wasn’t something we were prepped for. Players make mistakes and we will never judge a player on a mistake – nobody goes out to purposely make a mistake. We judge on a player’s attitude and what they show on the field, as well as their workrate – things they can control.
“Sometimes we miss a tackle and get a read wrong, and things like that happen, but it’s something we need to fix. Conceding three tries doesn’t sit well with us, especially as we normally average less than one try per game during a season.
“That’s my department and we need to fix it.”