Pressure worse than ’07 final: Du Preez

Date published: October 3 2015

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Springbok captain Fourie du Preez has described the pressure on his team over the past two weeks as the greatest of his career. 

South Africa have bounced back from defeat to Japan with commanding performances in victories over Samoa and Scotland to take control of Pool b at the Rugby World Cup.

The weight of expectation from the South African public has been massive and du Preez was clearly a relieved man after Saturday's 34-16 victory over their main pool rivals, Scotland. 

"We put everything on the line these last two weeks," said du Preez.

"These have been two of the most high-pressure games I've ever played in my life. Not even the 2007 final had as much  pressure as these last two weeks."

Du Preez drew a parallel between the Boks' resurgence and Handre Pollard's recovery from throwing an intercept that led to Scotland's only try, as the young fly-half slotted a neat drop goal.

"There wasn't anything said, it was just a look in the eyes," replied du Preez when asked who had made the decision to go for the drop goal.

"Huge credit to him. After the intercept he kicked a drop gaol and an unbelievable penalty. That says a lot about him as a player. He's still young but it's what you do after those mistakes [that counts]."

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had plenty of praise for his skipper, lauding the scrum-half for how he controlled the game and the way his team ruled the set pieces.

"Credit to Fourie. I thought he was brilliant as captain. He stuck to the game plan and we were very clinical. He took the right choices," said Meyer.

"Fourie was awesome this week, the way he galvanised the side.

"I was very happy with the set pieces. I though those youngsters did brilliantly at the lineouts, that was the winning and losing of the game," he said, referring especially to Lood de Jager.

The Bok coach had menacing words for players who gave away penalties though after the Boks conceded 11 and a yellow card. Veteran prop Jannie du Plessis will feel very uneasy about his position in the starting XV.

"I'm going to get tough on guys that give away penalties," he said.

"I'm going to take tough decisions if I have to. World Cups are won and lost on three points.

"Discipline is a non-negotiable. I thought the ref was great today, he let the game breathe. But I'm not happy with our discipline.

"I'm going to be hard on players that can't keep their discipline. Playing with 14 men in unacceptable."

By Ross Hastie in Newcastle

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