The senior Springbok players were battling to find the positives out of the weekend’s disappointing draw against England in Port Elizabeth but No 8 Pierre Spies took the line that the Boks have had a massive wake-up call ahead of the Rugby Championship.
“We have learned a painful lesson,” Spies said after having won his 50th cap in the rain and wind of Algoa Bay at its most inhospitable. “In terms of a number of the combinations in the team, we are a fairly young side and while we responded well to the challenge of winning the series in the first two Tests, we fell short tonight and all of us will recall how tough we had to fight just to draw this match. So there is definitely a lesson there for all of us that you have to pitch up for each and every match, otherwise you are left fighting for your lives.”
Spies said that the reaction among the players in the change room was that they had let themselves down.
“Our intensity was not the same as the first two Tests while you could feel that England were very keen on getting the result,” he said. “We just did not fire and they forced us into making errors in the line-outs, rucks and in our kicking game. We could not get momentum, good ball and, as a result, points on the board.”
Spies was asked if the draw felt like a loss. “Well, it does not feel like a win, I can assure you! It is not quite like a loss, but not far off!”
The Bulls captain said that the rain could not be used as an excuse.
“It was slippery under foot and the ball was wet, but it was the same for both sides. We just did not play as well as we could have. It is as simple as that.” He was asked if the Boks would have won had teammate Morné Steyn kicked better for goal.
“You can’t blame a result on a kicker when the whole team has played badly as a unit. We back Morné, he is a quality player that works harder on his game than anybody,” Spies said.
He added that while the positive remained that the Springboks had won the series, the negative was that the Boks had not won a home match.
“We set high standards for ourselves when we got together a month ago and one of the main goals we set was to win every home game. It is true that we have not lost at home yet, but a draw is just about as depressing!”