Jacques Nienaber says the new-look Springboks provided management with “answers” despite the world champions being stunned by Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Gareth Anscombe converted a Josh Adams try before the final hooter as the Welsh claimed a 13-12 victory over the Boks – their first win in South Africa – and set up a series showdown between the two teams in Cape Town next week.
Plenty was said in the match buildup about a Bok lineup that featured 14 changes and six uncapped players in the match-day 23 from the first Test, but the hosts looked comfortable in the first half and most of the second, yet couldn’t convert their territorial and possession advantage into points.
The Bok coaches emptied the bench throughout the second 40 minutes as the South Africans weathered the late comeback by Wales, before Adams scored and Anscombe added the extras for a famous victory in the Republic.
Speaking post-match on Saturday, Nienaber told media: “In the first half we had opportunities to convert but inaccuracy cost us, and then indiscipline in the second half cost us. That actually gave Wales a foot in the door and got them back in the game.
“We said from the start that we’ve got a plan for all 42 players and if we must be open and honest about it, you can probably say the conservative route would’ve been to wrap up the series now.
“To beat Wales is always going to be tight and you can never be sure you’re going to beat Wales, it’s always going to be tight up until the end.
“But the thing is, now we got answers on 42 players and that was always the plan. We could’ve gone the conservative route but you can never be guaranteed a victory, and let’s say we did lose the match tonight you’ll probably never have given those guys a chance.”
“We knew the risks involved but the answers we got out of it outweighed the risks… With guys playing their first Test, and guys who are in form in different competitions all over the world, but Test matches are different and small margins can cost you games,” the Bok coach added.
“It’s good for guys to understand the intensity of a Test match and what your accuracy levels have to be like, and the players would’ve learned a lot out of it, as we did from them. Could the execution have been better? Without a doubt.”
Stand-in skipper Handre Pollard, who scored all the Boks’ points, added: “We’re never going to be satisfied with a loss playing in the Springbok jersey but I’m still positive. The guys really showed fight and that’s what we asked for.
“Yes, [the loss] is very disappointing and it’ll take us 24 hours to get over it, but then we’ll look at the details and where we could’ve done better and we’ll learn from it and come back next week.”