Jacques Nienaber: Springboks were not accurate enough at Ellis Park

Dylan Coetzee

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber lamented his side’s poor accuracy in their 35-23 loss to New Zealand at Ellis Park.

The All Blacks put together a beautiful game of rugby and led 15-0 during the first half before Nienaber made some substitutions before half-time, which saw his side improve their performance and stage a mini comeback to lead 23-21 at one stage.

Poor accuracy

However, it was not to be for the Springboks, who were beaten by the better side on the day. Nienaber saw lack of accuracy as a key concern for South Africa in the Ellis Park Test.

“We weren’t as accurate as we were last week and they kept offloading, taking high risks which we didn’t contain that well,” said the coach.

“I thought we did well to come back from 15-0 down against the All Blacks which is a tough ask to get back into the game. We managed to do that in the back end of the first half and up to 73 minutes and then we slipped at the back end.”

The risks of fielding a 6-2 split on the bench troubled the Springboks again as they lost wing Jesse Kriel to a concussion early on, putting massive pressure on the bench. Nienaber defended the tactical decision but acknowledged the risks associated.

“We were over the try-line three times but we got zero points for that and rightly so,” said Nienaber.

Balance risk

“But we created the opportunities, just sometimes it goes for you and you score those tries. There were nice opportunities but sometimes it goes against you. The 6-2 bench split sometimes works for you and sometimes against you.

“I think since we have been back, we have coached 45 games and we’ve probably gone with a 6-2 split more than 30 times and it did bring us some positive results with a World Cup win and series victory over the British & Irish Lions.

“But in saying that, we know it is a risk if you get a backline injury and it’s just unfortunate.”

Nienaber defended his selection of hooker Joseph Dweba and claimed there was a “rugby reason” why he was subbed before half-time.

“There’s always a reason – a rugby reason why we did that, but that’s privileged,” said Nienaber. “The players all know [the reason]. Every single player knows why we went that route and there’s a very logical reason why we did that.”

The Springboks sit in second place on the Rugby Championship table after two rounds, behind Argentina, who claimed a record 48-17 win over the Wallabies in San Juan on Saturday.

Nienaber and his men will travel to Australia next for a two-Test tour down under.

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