Nienaber gets his 'answers' after historic defeat to Wales
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber was determined to look on the bright side after his team suffered a 12-13 defeat in the second match of their three-Test series against Wales.
A sold-out, 46 000-strong crowd saw the Boks let slip a nine-point lead in the final quarter with Wales’s match-winning try by Josh Adams, and a nerveless touchline conversion by Gareth Anscombe, coming in the 78th minute.
The result means the series is tied at 1-1, following last week’s 32-29 Springbok victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The deciding test takes place in Cape Town on Saturday.
Nienaber gave six players Test debuts in a team that showed 14 changes from the starting line-up that had beaten Wales the weekend before, with only lock Eben Etzebeth starting both Tests.
“We said from the start that we had a plan for 42 players,” Nienaber told reporters after Saturday’s defeat.
“If we had gone the conservative route and stuck with the same team – and let’s say we didn’t win the Test match tonight – then we would probably have never given the other guys an opportunity.
“There was risk, but the answers you get out of it outweigh the risk.”
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All the Boks’ points came from the boot of Handre Pollard – who kicked four penalty goals from six attempts – but they were unable to convert long periods of territorial dominance into points.
“I thought the intensity was there and we had a couple of opportunities in the first half when execution cost us,” said Nienaber.
“And then the discipline in the second half cost us. They brought intensity – which is what we asked of them – could the execution be better? Without a doubt.
“We had guys playing their first Test match; guys in-form in different competitions all over the world but Test matches are different and small margins cost you games.
“It’s good for the players to understand what a Test match intensity is like and what your accuracy levels have to be. The players would have learned a lot from that.”
Nienaber said the defeat had hurt the team: “We play for something much bigger than just a test match result,” he said.
“We’re playing for our fans and South Africa and the whole team feels that we let this phenomenal crowd down tonight by not getting a victory.
“I’ve said all along that Wales were coming here not to compete, they were coming here to win a series. We came here tonight to try and win the Series. We couldn’t but we got some answers.
“Going into the last game it’s going to be a final.”