Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber says his side now has something to build on after claiming a solid 40-9 victory over Georgia in their first Test in 20 months. DYLAN JACK reports.
Georgia put the Springboks through their paces in the home side’s return to Test rugby for the first time since the 2019 World Cup.
The Springboks were clearly rusty from the off as they lost possession at the first kick-off and conceded seven first-half penalties under pressure, allowing Georgia to take an early 9-5 lead.
However, as soon as Nienaber’s side got into their stride from the 30th minute, they overpowered the visitors, scoring a further five tries for a comfortable win in the end.
Speaking post-match, Nienaber said he was pleased with the workout the Springboks got, as they now know what they have to work on ahead of the Test series against the British & Irish Lions.
“Compliments to Georgia. We all know about their physicality,” Nienaber said. “It wasn’t a shock, but I though they caught us a little bit because we haven’t had a marker for 20 months. Now we have a marker and know where we are. Before this game, we wondered how we would be at the scrum, breakdown, mauling and defence. Now we have that marker and can start working from this.
“Our discipline was poor in the first half,” Nienaber admitted. “That’s credit to Georgia for putting us under pressure because that is when you concede penalties, when you are under pressure.
“This is exactly why we were desperate to play any Test match. It’s tough. Yes, you have your guys training against each other, but it’s never full out at the breakdown, defence or in the carry. Scrums are full out, but you are scrumming against each other and you know what each other’s tactics are. It’s difficult to get where we at. This is exactly what we needed.
“There isn’t anything that worried me. We now know where we are. We have to work on the things we weren’t great at. But we at least have a marker and can start working from there.”
The Boks were without regulars such as Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am, Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Makazole Mapimpi for the match, but Nienaber said he expects to name as strong a lineup as possible for the second Test against Georgia next Friday.
“As we said in the beginning, we will select the best available team for both games. The team we selected for tonight was the best available team. There were guys still recovering from injuries and guys who hadn’t been a part of our squad for a while. So, we will select the best available team for the next Test match.”
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