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Nienaber reaches for positives after sluggish Springbok win

By Ian Cameron
Francois de Klerk of the Springboks during The Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Emirates Airline Park on July 29, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber likened his team’s hard-fought 22-21 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina on Saturday to a typical test arm wrestle that bodes well for their preparations for the upcoming Rugby World Cup next month.

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The Springboks just about got the win in front of 44,357 fans at Emirates Airline Park as they weathered a fiercely committed onslaught from Argentina to secure their second victory in the truncated competition.

Facing a determined Argentine side coached by Michael Cheika, the Springboks endured a gruelling battle throughout the match, and while they won, it was far from the polished performance they might have hoped for.

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“We’re going to experience similar situations at the World Cup and to manage it in the way that Duane [Vermeulen] did at the end with the yellow card was very good,” said Nienaber, referring to the yellow card for Damien De Allende.

“The amount of attitude the players had in defence was outstanding; the amount of attitude they had in their ball carrying was outstanding. We made a couple of mistakes with tactical and technical stuff but that the easy stuff we can fix. But making it personal with the defence and the ball carrying is what I was incredibly proud of. It wasn’t the nicest game, but it was good to grind out the win.”

“Sometimes penalties just happen and then you get those avoidable penalties that you shouldn’t give away and that was tough for us. If you take away those avoidable penalties it would have been a better game for us.”

“The easiest way to get cohesiveness is in team selection and that’s probably where we put the team under pressure,” he said. “Every week they’ve had a different prop, a different hooker, a different rhythm so that’s almost the nice thing, as we take them out their rhythm because of the way we have chopped and changed in terms of team selection, and as we get closer to the World Cup there will definitely be more consistency in selection.”

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“On Tuesday we said if we can get a victory tonight it would be nice to make some changes,” he said. “The main things for us, is to spread the load and make sure that we are match fit and match ready and everyone has had some minutes and been under pressure before we leave for the World Cup.”

“We said from the outset that Argentina are tough team and they proved that today. That said, I am pleased with the way the players ground out the result.”

Skipper Vermuelen was a little more critical of the performance.

“It was a stop-start game for us, and I think our discipline wasn’t great,” said Vermeulen. “Sometimes penalties just happen and then you get those avoidable penalties that you shouldn’t give away and that was tough for us. If you take away those avoidable penalties it would have been a better game for us.

“You’ve got to give credit to Argentina. We saw how they won against Australia and against us in Durban last year they came back with a real onslaught and scored a couple of late tries. They play for 80 minutes. and we had to keep up but we’re happy with the win and we’ll take it from there.”

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Comments

6 Comments
B
Bob Marler 360 days ago

Looking forward to Argentina’s WC campaign. Silent assassins.

G
GrahamVF 361 days ago

In the last 200 minutes the Pumas have played they have outscored the All Blacks, the Wallabies and almost the Boks. They are a lot better than we are giving therm credit for. On the analysis of that last 200 minutes they are going to be a major force at the WC. Remember they are the only major rugby nation which does not have a credible domestic competition. They get together occasionally. They are going to be the undoing of many favoured nations at the WC.

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