Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer applauded the fitness and never-say-die attitude of his team in defeating Australia at Newlands on Saturday.
The Springboks scored three tries in the last ten minutes to seal a 28-10, bonus-point victory.
“We played great rugby at times in the first half, but their defence was great. We became a bit frustrated because of that, but in the second half the fitness levels and impact from the bench was massive for us; I told our conditioning coach Basil Carzis as much afterwards,” said Meyer.
“We wanted to make our country proud and hopefully managed that. We battled at times, but I have to say that our captain led from the front and came through for us tonight.”
Meyer was very pleased with the added effort the bench brought to the Springboks effort.
“They were all huge in their contributions and I have to thank them. It was good to see that my decision to have some experience on the bench worked out for us,” he said.
“The team also refused to give up. They sprinted back to our line after the third try, wanting to get that fourth one and we managed that. We scored some great tries when we finally managed to break them down.”
Meyer was worried about a possible rib injury to Duane Vermeulen.
“We had a lot of injuries this year and could not really build momentum because of that. That is why I am so pleased with the next group of guys who stepped in as we now have a nice depth to our squad,” he added.
Captain Jean de Villiers, who scored a brace, admitted this to be a personal highlight.
“I always dreamt of having my kids on the field with me and that was made possible today. To finish the test match with a very late try that secured the bonus point which concluded a massive team effort, was equally pleasing.
“This was possibly a top ten test for me,” he said.
De Villiers is looking forward to next week’s final match against New Zealand.
“We will take all the good from this match into next week. We came so close to beating New Zealand in Wellington and I think we can be very competitive next weekend at Ellis Park.
“We did not play badly in Perth and Wellington. We did many good things there. Tonight was an improvement on that and next week we have to step up again. If we continue this, we can beat New Zealand next week.”