Jean de Villiers believes his charges produced one of the great Springbok attacking performances at Newlands this past Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Boks scored 20 points in the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s game. It was during this period where they not only secured the result, but the bonus point for the fourth try.
It was an amazing turnaround considering the Boks’ impotent showing in the first half. In the aftermath, the Wallabies coaches and players were left scratching their heads, wondering how they had let such a terrific chance of victory slip.
Conversely, the Bok coach and captain were all smiles, with the latter hailing the performance as one of the most memorable of his 101-Test career.
‘It’s definitely in my top 10,’ said De Villiers, who scored two of the Boks’ last three tries. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a better 10-minute period of rugby. Once we got momentum, we were unstoppable. It was a special performance.’
While the Bok skipper conceded that the team wasn’t at its best in the first 40 minutes, he said there was always a plan to up the ante in the second stanza.
‘We didn’t intend to leave it so late, but we knew that if we stuck to our structures for 60 or 70 minutes, we could break them down and then score some points at the end.’
Heyneke Meyer had selected veterans such as Bismarck du Plessis, Schalk Burger, and Bakkies Botha on the bench, hoping that the substitutes would make the necessary impact in the dying stages. The Bok coach should feel vindicated about these selections, as the subs not only lifted the Boks’ intensity, but lent the team some composure.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admitted afterwards that the South Africans had completely outplayed them at the tackle point in the final quarter. He praised the Bok bench, but couldn’t quite explain why the Wallabies struggled to match the Boks during this period.
Meyer was evidently pleased that his plan had worked, and that so many of the veterans had swung the result in the Springboks' favour.
‘There were some great moments in that game,’ Meyer said. 'Perhaps we could have played more tactically at one stage, but that period at the end was brilliant. We were down, but showed great composure to fight back.
‘I’m proud of the way the guys played. I get a lot of criticism for playing the older guys [like Victor Matfield, Botha, and Burger], but they made the difference tonight. The captain also led from the front, and I can't say enough about his performance.’
Meyer added that the win at Newlands was the perfect response after losing two matches in Australasia. The Boks will now take some momentum into next week’s clash against the All Blacks, a team they haven’t beaten since before Meyer took charge in 2012.
The Bok coach was encouraged by the level of intensity displayed in the final minutes, and believes this bodes well for another taxing clash against the New Zealanders on the highveld.
De Villiers said that the Boks need to produce a similar showing if they are going to claim that elusive Kiwi scalp.
‘We came close to beating New Zealand in Wellington. After this game [against the Wallabies at Newlands], we are quietly confident that we can do the business in Johannesburg. If we play the way we played tonight, we will have a good chance of beating the All Blacks.’
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