Boks still in search of perfect game

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iol spt june13 Matfield-presser Gallo Images Victor Matfield has been ruled out of South Africa's opening Rugby Championship match against Argentina. Photo: Steve Haag

Mombela - The Springboks are aiming for a perfect performance against Wales in their second match in Mbombela on Saturday.

South Africa ran in five tries against the Celtic nation in Durban last weekend, but lost some steam in the final 20 minutes of the match.

Springbok stalwart and captain Victor Matfield on Friday said the team was not completely satisfied with their performance and they would be looking to turn in an 80-minute performance of the same quality as last week's first half.

“In the first half we were spot on, we only conceded one penalty in that whole first half and were in their half the whole time and we could play,” said Matfield, who will become the most-capped Test player when he runs out in his 112th Test match breaking the record held by John Smit.

“The second half we made mistakes and we gave them ball and we had to defend.”

If South Africa eliminates the mistakes Matfield referred to, the Welsh could be in for a world of pain in Mpumalanga's lowveld.

The Welsh have never tasted victory on South African soil and will be looking to make a step-up from their lacklustre performance in Durban.

Wales coach Warren Gatland had made only two changes to his run-on side with the hope they could plug the whole that sunk their ship so unceremoniously last weekend.

Gatland spoke at length of the high intensity of rugby in the southern hemisphere which his team was unable to cope with.

The Springboks' fleet-footed Willie le Roux was the mastermind in South Africa's convincing victory and Gatland would have made some plans to minimise or even stifle the threat the fullback posed to the Welsh.

While the South African pack established quick ball for the backline to run amok, Matfield reserved praise for the players behind the scrum.

“Few of the plans we had last week worked well, maybe they'll have a look at it and have a different defence, but we've got a good structure and within that good decisions,” Matfield said.

“Some of our players, especially in the backs, made great decisions that led to tries, so hopefully those guys can breach the defence again and make good decisions this weekend.

“It is important that we are even better than last week, it was a great start for us, but there were a lot of mistakes there as well, and we want to get that right this week.”

Springbok mentor Heyneke Meyer this week warned of a Welsh backlash, while he also called for an improved showing by his charges.

“They (Wales) will lift themselves and you can't be complacent, you have to take it to a new level,” Meyer said.

“It is not about the score, it is just to get every single thing right and be consistent for 80 minutes. The main goal is to play the perfect game. I thought we were close to [that in] the first half, but you need to do that for 80 minutes.”

Speaking about breaking Smit's record, Matfield said while it was a great achievement, his attention was directed on the team's performance rather than on himself.

“It is a great milestone for me but it is all about the team.

“We had a great game last week and there is a lot of pressure on us to go out and do the same and try to give an even better performance.”

Sapa



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