Poor goal-kicking not only reason for Boks’ defeat, says Nienaber
The Boks gave up 11 points because of missed goal-kicks in a narrow 13-8 loss to Ireland.
Faf de Klerk kicking against Ireland in Paris. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
Coach Jacques Nienaber refused to pin the Springboks’ 13-8 loss to Ireland in their Rugby World Cup clash in Paris on Saturday on their inability to convert from the kicking tee.
The kicking woes that have beset the Boks in recent times came back to haunt them at the Stade de France as they failed with four shots at goal, that cost them 11 points.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk both missed two kicks each.
The Boks and Ireland both scored a try a piece courtesy of Cheslin Kolbe and Mack Hansen respectively, the difference between the teams in a tight game being Ireland’s skipper Johnny Sexton and Jack Crowley who kicked eight points between them.
Libbok knocked over an early penalty for the Boks; the defending champions’ only points from the kicking tee.
Nienaber refused to only blame poor kicking for the Boks’ defeat.
“Hats off to Ireland, they were better than us on the day,” Nienaber said in his post-match press conference.
“Yes, I think we missed a couple of points off the tee. I won’t say that’s the sole reason for not getting across the line. In the first half alone we lost two balls close to the try line and had another two opportunities later on, so that’s four opportunities, plus those points off the tee is probably the reason why. But I won’t say it is only goal-kicking.
“There was an opportunity that we had especially in that first half where we lost the ball underneath the poles where we had an opportunity and at the back end of the game, the last maul, we had a great opportunity there,” he said.
Nienaber said their kickers on the day were confident.
“The kicking at goal, in all teams … if the kicker is confident, then he can go for it. If the captain asks him if he can take the kick and he is confident, then he can take the kick at goal. If they are confident they can nail it, then they can go for it.
“Faf was confident he could kick from the halfway line, he was kicking it well in the warm-up and unfortunately, he hit the post,” Nienaber said.
2019 Rugby World Cup winner, flyhalf Handre Pollard, who joined the Bok group earlier last week as a replacement for the injured Malcolm Marx, is a viable solution to the goal-kicking problems, but the England-based No 10 has only recently returned to action after a long injury spell.
Nienaber said the Boks would evaluate Pollard’s availability for their last pool B match against Tonga next Sunday.
“We’ll have to discuss it. Lots of things go into team selection. We will get the medical status after 24-48 hours and then we will go through our team selection process as normal,” he said.