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Boks anguish: 'Excellent effort, I thought we deserved victory'

By Liam Heagney

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Jacques Nienaber has praised his team’s response following last weekend’s capitulation to the Wallabies, the Springboks going to toe-to-toe with the All Blacks in Townsville this weekend and only losing out agonisingly on a 19-17 scoreline following a 78th-minute penalty kick from Jordie Barrett. The Springboks had come in for a vast amount of criticism in the days leading up their round five match with New Zealand, but the 2019 world champions responded admirably and they came within a single refereeing decision at a breakdown of clinching a win that many thought they would never come close to recording.

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“We had the belief, 100 per cent,” insisted Nienaber, the Springboks head coach whose record in charge now reads five wins and four losses, three of those defeats coming on the bounce in their last three outings. “There was not a player, not a person in our squad that didn’t believe we could beat the All Blacks today. Not one.

“We had great preparation during the week. There wasn’t a speck of doubt in our mind that we would have the opportunity to beat the All Blacks. We knew it would be a grind because you are playing No1 and No2 in the world. 

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“If you take our history since I was back with Rassie (Erasmus in 2018), a two-point victory in Wellington, a two-point loss against them in Pretoria, then a draw in Wellington in 2019, then a 10-point loss with lots of opportunities burnt at the World Cup and today I don’t know how many points, two points, one point, I can’t remember. It’s always going to be like that and we had 100 per cent belief.

“The effort was excellent and I thought we deserved victory. In Test matches like this you are in with a shout at the end and playing No1 and No2 in the world it comes down to small margins. I thought the effort the players put in, we put ourselves in a position to win this game. I am hurting inside because we could have pulled a result out today.

We were in a position to pull a result out of this game but if you think back to the Lions, we won the series like New Zealand won today and like Australia won the first Test in the 82nd minute kicking a goal and we did the same against the Lions. It’s probably swings and roundabouts, especially when two top teams are playing against each other. It goes down to the wire like it did tonight.”

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Asked what the Springboks lacked when it came down to the crunch in Townsville, Nienaber added: “If we won this game we wouldn’t have had this question. More composure probably springs to mind. We have to be more composed at the back end of the game and almost finishing the game a little bit better because we were leading 78 minutes into the game and then maybe we weren’t as composed as we should have been. 

“That’s what springs to mind. We have got a very experienced side but we still have a lot to learn as a group. People will probably think I am mad saying that but we still need to go through the processes of being champions, finishing games out and getting to where New Zealand are with winning. That is a consistency we are striving to get to in our game still and we will have to learn very quickly in the next couple of years how to do that.”

Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi said: “It definitely does hurt… we prepared well this week and losing today was really hard. We felt we were in there and dominated the set-piece, we were good in the scrums and our maul did well. We will look at the video, see where we went wrong and what we can do to get better. Results will come. We can’t control them but we control our processes. There is no other way (to do it).”

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Boks anguish: 'Excellent effort, I thought we deserved victory'

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