Debutant Deon Fourie and 2019 World Cup winner Warrick Gelant admitted that too many mistakes from the Springboks allowed Wales to snatch a historic win over the world champions in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
A Bok lineup that featured 14 changes and six uncapped players dominated the tourists in the first half, and most of the second, but the world champions couldn’t convert the advantage into points.
Inaccuracy and a high penalty count from the hosts in the final quarter at Free State Stadium allowed the tourists back into the contest before they overturned a six-point deficit to claim a 13-12 victory – Wales’ first in the Republic – and set up a series decider in Cape Town next week.
The 35-year-old Fourie, who came off the bench to become the oldest player to make his debut for the Boks, said post-match: “I think there were a lot of emotions with all the guys getting their chance to play, as well as those guys getting their first caps.
“Unfortunately, the result didn’t go our way but we can only look at ourselves, as we made it difficult for ourselves with the unnecessary mistakes.
“Add to that the penalty count – I think it was more than 10 – and don’t think that was good enough, especially in Test rugby. And with that penalty count you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot.
“If you give away double penalties in a row, and that happened twice to tonight, that’s where the composure comes in and guys need to know you can’t do a ‘double fault’ because at Test match rugby that’s where you get punished.
“But we know what we need to fix and what we’ll need to focus on is to be more accurate.”
On what it meant to finally represent his country at the highest level, the veteran openside flank added: “I don’t feel so old now! But like I’ve said, it’s something I’ve always dreamed about and it was a huge honour, and I’m happy to have achieved it.”
The Bok coaches emptied the bench throughout the second 40 minutes, and Gelant says the flurry of changes emboldened Wayne Pivac’s charges to stage a late fightback.
“Wales were desperate and knew what the outcome meant for us, and if we got a victory what it would mean for them,” said the Bok fullback, who was making his first Test appearance since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan in 2019.
“For us, [those players] making the transitions from the different competitions we’ve played in… sometimes you think you’re in control and in those last 20 minutes you maybe rest on your laurels and that’s when reality kicks in.
“And then they get a quick score, then two, and then three, and then they win the game. So it’s a lesson for us to maybe go for the kill.
“Territorially, for the first 40 to 50 minutes, we were in control and Wales couldn’t get the upper hand on us, but then there were mistakes from us and they crept in and turned it around.”