Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber was happy with his team’s second-half comeback as they claimed a 32-29 win over Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Wales started the game well and dominated the world champions in the opening half, leading 18-3 at the break after a brilliant performance.
However, the South Africans found their rhythm with the help of the notorious ‘bomb squad’, who made a significant impact from the bench, and a penalty from Damian Willemse after the hooter sealed the game.
“I’d much rather focus on the second half,” Nienaber said. “The second-half was pretty much the performance we were looking for.
“Things didn’t go well for us in the first half; we didn’t start well. We started with intensity and a good attitude, but our execution let us down and we’ll have to work on that.”
The Springboks scored 29 points in the second half, showing outstanding character, and Nienaber praised the team’s attitude.
“We came back from 18-3 and I said to the guys afterwards that they never gave up,” Nienaber said.
“To score 29 points in the second half was great. They stayed calm and composed and got the job done.”
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi commended his teammates’ composure and trusted their systems would pull the game back.
“There wasn’t any panic. At no point did we think that we weren’t going to come back into the game,” Kolisi said.
“We know what we are capable of and stuck to it. We went maul after maul. We wanted it to work at the beginning and it didn’t, but in the end it got us through.”
Nienaber singled out the Springboks’ kicking game as a major issue in the encounter and something they will focus on for the second Test in Bloemfontein.
“Our kicking game wasn’t functioning,” the coach said.
“It’s probably the one reason we struggled to get out of our half. It’s probably the one thing we will have to improve.
“The 29 points we scored in the second half was really good, but the first half didn’t go as we planned.
“We created some opportunities but we didn’t capitalise and Wales created two great opportunities, which they finished off.”