Boks wins in nail-biting affair at Loftus

The teams will reconvene in Bloemfontein on Saturday for the second test, with the Boks likely to pay some attention to their kicking game.

A relieved Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber praised his composed team as they overturned a 15-point halftime deficit to record a 32-29 victory over Wales at a packed Loftus Versfeld in the first match of three tests in the Castle Lager Incoming Series on July 2.

A 51 762-strong crowd witnessed the Boks score four second-half tries and land a last-kick penalty from Damian Willemse, who moved up from fullback to flyhalf at halftime. This broke the 29-29 deadlock and overcame a battling Welsh team that seemed capable of recording its first victory in the Republic.

The Boks were their own worst enemies in the first half as a catalogue of errors allowed Wales to score two tries and placed themselves in a potentially match-winning position.

“I’d much rather focus on the second half which had the performance we were looking for,” said Nienaber.

“Things didn’t go for us in the first half – we didn’t start well. We started with intensity and a good attitude, but our execution let us down and we will have to work on that.”

The comeback was founded on a maul that finally began to function, leading to tries for hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx as well as a penalty try from a collapsed maul, with wing Cheslin Kolbe grabbing a fourth.

“We came back from 18-3 and I said to the guys afterwards that they never gave up,” said Nienaber.

“To score 29 points in the second half was great. They stayed calm and composed and got the job done.”

Bok captain Siya Kolisi also noted the composure of the team: “There wasn’t any panic. At no point did we not think that we weren’t going to come back into the game.

“We knew what we were capable of and stuck to it. We went maul after maul, we wanted it to work at the beginning and it didn’t, but in the end, it got us through,” he said.

The teams will reconvene in Bloemfontein on Saturday for the second test, with the Boks likely to pay some attention to their kicking game.

“Our kicking game wasn’t functioning,” said Nienaber.

“It is probably the one reason why we struggled and the one thing we will have to improve.

“But the 29 points we scored in the second half was really good. We created some opportunities, but we didn’t capitalise, and they created two great opportunities which they finished off.”

Nienaber had a special word for Willemse, who followed up a touchline conversion with the match-winning goal. I thought Damian did well,” he said.

“As we said during the week, he is a ‘project’ since 2018. We’ve slowly been giving him more confidence and game time in what we want him to do.

“He is probably our next Frans Steyn covering 10, 12 and 15 and today he had to cover 10 and 15 for us and I think he did it excellently.”

Related Articles

Back to top button