Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber said their high penalty count was what ultimately cost them in their narrow loss to the Wallabies on Sunday.
The Springboks suffered another frustrating loss to the Wallabies in Australia, stretching the winless run they have had Down Under since 2013.
The result came down to a penalty from veteran Quade Cooper – playing his first Test for the Wallabies since 2017 – after the full-time hooter had sounded.
It appeared that the Springboks had got themselves out of jail thanks to two tries from hooker Malcolm Marx, despite an erratic performance where they uncharacteristically missed 21 tackles and went into the break eight points behind the hosts.
However, as Nienaber pointed out in the post-match press conference, the Springboks’ poor discipline came back to bite them, in a match where they conceded a total of 11 penalties and were duly punished by Cooper.
“We scored three tries to one, but gave them 23 points off the kicking tee,” Nienaber said. “That’s the reason why we lost.
“I thought we were quite dominant in the first 20 minutes. We probably had control of the game, but we lost control in the last 20. Obviously they got a bit of a lead on us.
“I thought we did brilliantly to get back into the game. We lost it in the 82nd minute because, again, discipline. We conceded a penalty. Like Siya [Kolisi] said, they played well. Australia played well and deserved to win.
“I don’t think we were great today. Saying that I don’t want to take anything away from Australia. We were a little off our game, especially our discipline.
“We created opportunities. Sbu [Nkosi] was over the tryline, Lukhanyo [Am] was over the tryline. We scored three tries. There were opportunities to maybe get two more tries. We didn’t finish. So it wasn’t a polished performance. We will have to fix those things and especially look at our discipline.”
In a rare off-day, flyhalf Handre Pollard was strangely out-of-sorts, especially off the kicking tee as he missed eight points from the kicking tee, two penalties and one conversion.
However, Nienaber said the general’s performance was not to blame for the loss.
“I don’t think a kicker ever goes out to miss a kick. In fairness, Handre was looking good in the warm-up. He was solid. On another day, his kick goes a foot left and it’s over. Even the long-distance one in the first half.
“But that’s ifs and buts. Nobody goes out to make an error.”
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