Stick: Young guns learnt hard lessons

Despite feeling let down after South Africa A slumped to a second consecutive defeat, coach Mzwandile Stick believes the younger players will be better for the experience of playing in high-pressure matches. DYLAN JACK reports.

Having lost the opening midweek match of this tour against Munster in Cork last week, the SA A side were convincingly beaten by Bristol Bears at a packed Ashton Gate on Thursday night and finish the outgoing tour without a win.

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“The honest truth is that I am disappointed. The potential we’ve got in the changeroom and the players that we’ve got, I felt that we have brilliant players and experienced players in the squad,” said Stick.

“We didn’t play to the standard that we’ve got in that dressing room. Sometimes, maybe the players were trying to play like a trial game where everyone wants to do their own thing.

“The moment that we started playing like a team and sticking to the plan, beautiful things were happening. It showed in the try scored by Ntuthuko Mchunu. Once we played in front of our forwards and played direct, we started dominating the game.

“When we decided to spread the ball wide, the ball retention at the breakdowns was poor. Losing the ball in the wider channels let us down.

“I am disappointed, but only because I know the material we had in the dressing room. We really had players that can win us games.”

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Despite boasting plenty of experience, the SA A side looked disjointed in both matches as there were a high number of handling errors, while the players struggled to get to terms with the defensive system.

“We haven’t played these SA A games in a while. Now we know better,” said Stick. “For me as a coach, I would have loved to have a week or two of a camp with the guys, where we can just implement all the stuff we want to execute in our plan.

“When we came here, we had two training sessions before we played Munster. The same goes for this week, we had three training sessions.

“In the future, one thing I would love would be to have more time with the guys. As I say, we have brilliant players, but if we were a bit more aligned, we could have had better results.”

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Stick remains excited about the future of players such as Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Henco van Wyk and Suleiman Hartzenberg who were among those to get their first taste of rugby at this level.

“Sometimes, you also have to learn the hard way. The youngsters got an opportunity on this tour, went through pressure in the past two games. It was packed and loud in the stadiums. That’s the closest thing you can experience in a Test match game.

“A lot of them have a lot to learn. I don’t think this is going to damage their future. Yes, we are disappointed, but I don’t doubt that the youngsters in this team have the potential to make it far in the future. They will get better as human beings and players as well.”

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Photo: Andy Watts/JMP/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

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