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Where the Springboks reckon they lost the first Test

By Kim Ekin
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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said the British & Irish Lions outplayed his side in the second half by dominating the aerial battle, an issue he has vowed to fix.


Reflecting on the 22-17 defeat, Nienaber said the Lions won the battle of the boot. “The kicking game was won by us in the first half and we got the rewards, but the second half was a different story,” said Nienaber.

“They won that battle and it gave them territory, advantage in broken field play and we had to scramble, and could not cope.”

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Nienaber felt the Boks’ 12-3 lead at half-time was deserved, but he did not expect the Lions to bounce back in the second half the way they did.

“We were nine points up, so things were working for us – we were playing in the right areas,” he said. “Our half-time talk was to step up at the breakdown and then our discipline fell away. We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time. We did not make the step-up needed when required.

“We can certainly salvage this. A proper review is needed, but we can sort it out, no doubt. It worked in the first half, and I believe what happened in the second half is fixable.”

The Springboks had three tries awarded, but two were cancelled after the intervention from the TMO. Nienaber had no issue with that.


“I completely trust the officials, that is their jobs, they are the professionals in that field,” he said.

“They are in a better position and have many angles to look at. Sometimes these calls go against you, as we found out today. In the second half we had three try scoring opportunities, twice we were called back. Those is the small margins in this game.”

Nienaber also refused to blame the pandemic and the camp outbreak for the loss.

“We did not play a lot of rugby together, but we still had good cohesion in the first half. What happened in the second half was not because of COVID, we lost the battle in the air.


“They kicked a lot and we planned for it. It worked in the first half and in the second half it did not. Our execution was not as good.”

Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi lamented a lack of execution from the Boks.

“We did not get the maul going, and we need to look at that,” said Kolisi. “They won the crucial balls in the air and the scraps that comes from that. Well done to them. We are back at work tomorrow and will start fixing what we need to.”


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