The numbers tell a different Bok story
POST-MATCH ANALYSIS: South Africa is within a single score of the two top teams in the world and making significant progress on their year-end tour.
The Springboks, having lost 16-19 to the world’s top-ranked team Ireland in their tour opener in Dublin, suffered another heartbreaking loss in a closely-fought contest against France this past weekend.
France stretched their winning streak to 12 consecutive matches when they edged South Africa 30-26 In Marseille this past Saturday in a game where both teams lost players with red cards.
“We’re four points behind France, who are the second best team in the world, and three points behind Ireland, who is the best team in the world,” Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber told reporters.
“We will need to work extremely hard because we are playing Ireland in our [World Cup] pool [next year] and there’s a possibility of playing France or New Zealand in the quarterfinals – so there’s a lot of hard work for us,” he added.
Les Bleus, the defending Six Nations champions, will host next year’s global showpiece.
“I think they are very close to being favourites,” Nienaber said.
“There’s not a team currently in world rugby that’s on that streak.
“They should be, with Ireland, as one of the favourites,” he added.
“I don’t think there are big gaps in the top 10 teams in the world.
“If you get your stuff wrong you can lose to any of those top 10 teams.”
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Nienaber said there was better ‘cohesion’ in the team, which allowed them to play at a higher tempo in Marseille.
“We haven’t played a lot since the Rugby Championship,” he told @rugby365com, pointing to two cancelled United Rugby Championship games that robbed a number of players if valuable game time.
“We were a little bit ‘cold’ last week,” he said of the 16-19 loss to Ireland last week.
“I felt the opportunities we had this weekend, we took more of them.”
The coach added that the hard work put in on the training field was reflected in the team’s 100 percent goal-kicking success rate at Stade Vélodrome.
“The players are working hard on their goal-kicking and also getting energy into the game.
“There was good energy and when the opportunities presented themselves we played – which is what we want.”
He added they will continue to work hard at improving their individual and collective skills.
* Get all the key stats from Marseille below …
* Additional reporting by AFP