Siya Kolisi spearheaded an impressive win against Italy, but the Springbok captain will only be satisfied if South Africa backs it up with a clinical performance against England at Twickenham. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Springboks put a poor conversion rate in the past when they ran in nine tries against Italy in a sensational showing in Genoa on Saturday afternoon.
After a tight first half, the Boks took a five-point lead into the break, but ran away with the match in the second period.
“Italy was phenomenal at the beginning,” Nienaber said after the match.
“There was no space at the front line and we had to work hard. There was more space in the second half. Our game drivers handled it well. If there’s no space, you have to look at avenues, but if there is, you have to have confidence to take it on.”
Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a brace while Cheslin Kolbe dotted down in the second half after snatching the ball out of the air from a restart.
“I thought our outside backs were outstanding today, especially Kurt-Lee,” added the Bok coach. “We’ve got lots of exciting outside backs, when you think we also have Makazole Mapimpi and Canan Moodie. There’s nice competition there, with S’bu Nkosi as well.
“They got the balance right today with asking questions up front and exploiting space at the back.”
The Boks went into the match on the back of narrow losses to Ireland and France, which may have had results if the tourists had taken their chances in those games.
“As a team we want to play well, score tries, offload and put people away, and we enjoyed the game today,” said captain Kolisi.
“We also enjoy the physical part of the game, and to get that balance right was important. That said, doing this once is not enough, we have to keep doing it.
“The last two games were very close, but I believe we are heading in the right direction.”
Making the performance even more impressive was the fact that the Boks endured a somewhat tough week, as both Pieter-Steph du Toit and Rassie Erasmus were handed suspensions.
“We showed Italy the respect that they deserve, and as I said on Friday, they’re a very different team to a few years ago.
“We knew we had to play to the best of our ability, and it was clear by how tight the first half was. We had to dig deep.
“As South Africans we are used to facing adversity and we knew we had to lift ourselves. Our focus all week was only on the game because it was very important for us to get a win today.”
However, Nienaber added that the result and the performance will mean little if it isn’t followed up when the Springboks take on England on Saturday.
“We certainly all want to see the team moving forward in this direction. Today we capitalised on the opportunities we created, but I don’t think it was a near perfect performance.
“We can always get better. That said, the work the guys have put in over the last month in terms of where we want to be heading into 2023 is great. The players are taking ownership and we are building.
“But as Siya said, one good game isn’t good enough. We need to get consistency. The challenge of course is when things don’t always go your way, to dig yourself out of it and try to get consistency.”
Photo: Twitter: @Springboks