Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says there is simply no excuse for a tactically 'naive performance' against Ireland, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Boks suffered their first defeat to the Irish in South Africa despite playing against 14 men for 57 minutes.
To add insult to injury, Coetzee confirmed that Pat Lambie would not be available for next Saturday’s Test at Ellis Park due to the serious knock he took to the head in a first-half incident that saw CJ Stander red carded after colliding with the flyhalf.
The coach said there was the possibility that Lambie could come back into contention for the third and final Test. Coetzee is set to consider his options before calling up a possible replacement.
Ironically, Lambie sustained the injury in the act of enforcing a tactic that the Boks were intent on implementing, with part of the plan revolving around putting chip kicks in over Ireland’s flat defensive line.
Elton Jantjies came on as Lambie’s replacement, and while some of his distribution was efficient, it was evident that the kicking plan was not employed as regularly.
After the match, a downcast Coetzee acknowledged that the performance had been far from good enough for a Bok team.
‘We’re very disappointed in the performance and result. It is hurting, it’s not an ideal start, and as a collective we have to take responsibility. We’re disappointed in ourselves, but credit must also go to the Irish, who played with 14 men and were outstanding. We were poor. There can be no excuses, but we have to fix it and come back into the series. We do accept full responsibility.’
Coetzee said he was especially disappointed that some of their plans weren’t executed as intended.
‘We were a bit naive tactically. We felt Ireland can tend to rush up off the line, so we wanted to put the ball in behind their defensive line and into space. But we went away from that. The space was given by the Irish out wide, but then we weren’t clinical in using that space. We were very lateral across the field, and got pushed into touch or lost the ball.
'We should have had the same plan when Elton came on, so we will have to look at why we didn’t kick in behind them,’ he added. ‘Elton might have felt the ground was covered at the back, but the fact also remains that we didn’t utilise the opportunities we created when we went to the wide channel. We were just too lateral. We needed to build phases and have patience.’
Coetzee said there was also a patent lack of composure and intensity at times.
‘Our ball carrying and discipline wasn’t good enough. On one occasion, if we could have gone one more phase we could have walked over [the tryline]. I’m happy with some passages we had with ball in hand, but there was a lack of execution and a lack of intensity. It is a setback, but we have to take it on the chin, we can’t mope, and we have to come back.’
The Boks also lamented their poor discipline, which enabled Ireland to relieve pressure and for flyhalf Paddy Jackson to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
‘Test rugby is different. It isn’t the same as Super Rugby, you can’t allow your discipline to break your rhythm, and if you do, it’s tough to stay in the contest,' said Coetzee. 'We conceded eight penalties in the first half, and added to that there were execution mistakes and unforced errors. When we were on attack, we lost the ball in one way or another. There’s a lot to work on.’
Sharing his thoughts on the red card to Stander, Coetzee said he had viewed it as a dangerous piece of play, while Ireland counterpart Joe Schmidt reiterated that he felt the decision was ‘very very harsh’.
‘He [Stander] had both hands extended, and once you’re in the air you can’t change your trajectory. At the end of the day I certainly hope Pat’s OK. He and CJ are friends, and CJ was upset that he was hurt. When there is an injury like that, there is a consequence in that a card comes out.’
Ireland will next face the Boks in Johannesburg and then Port Elizabeth, and Schmidt said he expected the home side to be much-improved after Saturday’s ‘rusty’ performance.
‘They probably let us off the hook, sometimes there was some inaccuracy and dropped balls when we were going back defensively. Their ball carriers did knock people back at times, but it did look like a first performance together for the Boks. We expect them to be better in Johannesburg. We can’t get too carried away, but we’re excited by this little bit of history, although we know we’ve now got another two big Test still to come.’
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images