Springbok coach Allister Coetzee expressed his satisfaction in the composure shown by his team in their 30-23 win over Argentina in Nelspruit on Saturday. The victory in the Mbombela Stadium opened the Rugby Championship campaign for South Africa on a positive note. The Boks trailed Los Pumas 23-13 with nine minutes to play, but scored a late try by Warren Whiteley to edge past their opponents, who will face them again in a week’s time in Salta.
Coetzee says: ‘I felt a bit of deja vu after the first test match against Ireland. Luckily this time we could turn it around. So I am pleased with the result.’ However, he lamented the 20 minutes before and after half-time, saying: ‘I am not pleased with the 20 minutes before half-time and the 20 there-after. We need to put together longer periods of good play. There were opportunities we did not take, like Lionel (Mapoe) not scoring. We created the pressure, but did not use the opportunities that we created and we need to improve on that. The decision-making on how to play territory was not quite there. We are a work in progress. I am happy that our set-phase went well and scrum time went well. The last 25 minutes were much better and more like what we want to achieve.’ Coetzee says the play in the last ten minutes was expected: ‘We anticipated the impact of the bench. They were supposed to take the game away from Argentina and we are a 23-man squad. We executed very well when we came back. Resilience and resolve in the team is something we try to create in the side and they respond well to that. There is good respect in the team for leadership and we grow. We need a bit more killer instinct and we are looking to get that right.’
Coetzee gave Argentina great credit for their performance, saying: ‘We cannot underestimate this Argentinean side. They are world class. They played wet weather tests against France in June and they looked comfortable today in the damp conditions.’ Springbok captain, Adriaan Strauss, says the first step in beating Argentina is by not underestimating them: ‘You cannot afford to underestimate the Pumas. It was a strange game for us. It was tight, the ball was slippery. Lots of turn-overs and lost possession. They were also good at the breakdown. Also the momentum shifted all the time. We have a lot to work on still. But we learned not to panic after the first match against Ireland. We took our time, even with nine minutes left. The guys had belief and energy, even at the late stage.’
Photo credits: UAR/Steve Haag