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Jean: We let ourselves down

  • 05 Oct 2013
Jean de Villiers scores the Springboks' fourth try Jean de Villiers scores the Springboks' fourth try

Jean de Villiers says the Boks only have themselves to blame for the defensive errors at Ellis Park that blunted their attempt to wrest the Castle Rugby Championship trophy from the All Blacks.

The All Blacks scored five tries to four in their 38-27 win. With the game in the balance, two Kiwi tries in quick succession clinched the title by securing the four-try bonus point and then wrapped up the match.

'It is disappointing, but I think we retained the same mindset after we knew we couldn’t win the Championship,' said De Villiers.

'We said from the outset that if we won this game and didn’t score the four tries we would end up feeling exactly like we are feeling now. If you are not first you might as well be last. There’s not really too much you can say. We felt we let ourselves down. Full credit to the coaching staff, particularly Heyneke [Meyer], for making us believe it was possible. But we definitely let Heyneke down with our defensive effort.'

Meyer said that from an attacking viewpoint, the Bok performance was one of the best he had been involved with at any level, but over-eagerness had cost his team.

“The amount of time the ball was in play in this match was unbelievable and it was definitely one of the best games I have ever been involved in. We showed we can score four tries against the All Blacks, but I can’t say that I am happy with the result,' he said.

'We let ourselves down defensively. Our defence is normally a lot better than that, but tonight we let the All Blacks score tries they shouldn’t have and it cost us what I thought was a great opportunity to make our country really proud.

'I disagree that it was because our forwards lack mobility. I think the problem was over-eagerness. A few of their tries were scored because of us shooting out of line. We also didn’t get the results at the contact points today, and that also cost us.'

De Villiers was adamant that it was the players, rather than the system, who were at fault.

'Defence comes from within. The system wasn’t to blame and the players take full responsibility. We just didn’t play to our standard. Fifty percent of the game is about attack. Last year our defence was good, this year our attack was good and our defence wasn’t always great. I am looking forward to seeing what happens if one day we get both right at the same time.'

The match was played at a frenetic pace, and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen afterwards lauded both sets of players for the way the game was played and approached. All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said neither team left anything on the field and spoke of the exhaustion in the winning team’s dressing room.

'These are the sort of games that give you reason to play this game and lace on your boots,' said McCaw.

Meyer thought the turning point was the try scored by the All Blacks on the stroke of half-time after the Boks had led for most of the way and done most of the pressurising in the first half.

'We had a really great attitude and were positive, and we started well. But they scored just before half-time, which meant we took a different mindset into the break. I really think that was the turning point.'

McCaw concurred: 'After that try the Boks would have been having a different talk during the half-time break than they thought they would have been having.'

Photo: AFP Photo

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