Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was reluctant to blame injuries for his side’s second half lull after their series clinching victory over England at Ellis Park on Saturday.
After a confident first half performance, the Springboks looked set to record a compelling victory over the Roses, but instead allowed the tourists back into the game after a number of injuries to key players.
“I thought the first 40 minutes we played great rugby at times and that is where we want to go to,” said Meyer.
“Unfortunately we had a few injuries but that is not an excuse. I thought England really took their chances and we gave them some soft tries.
“They are a quality side and they played well in the second half.”
The Springboks suffered three injury blows with Willem Alberts, Juandre Kruger and Patrick Lambie leaving the field in the second half.
All three players made a massive impact in the side’s polished first half performance and their absence contributed to the Boks’ sluggish second half.
As was the case in the first Test, Alberts was a key ball-carrier while SA lost their pivotal lineout jumper in Kruger.
Meyer felt his side’s performance was a step in the right direction but bemoaned mistakes in their set-phases.
“We can be a dangerous side if we get go-forward from set-phases and we couldn’t get any set-phases going in the second half.
“All credit to England, I thought they played brilliantly in the second half and we couldn’t get going.
“I was very happy with some glimpses I saw of the type of rugby we want us to play and to score four tries to three on the day... I will take it.”
While Meyer did not want to blame injuries for the side’s second half performance, he admitted it stifled their momentum.
“We lost a lot of rhythm especially among the forwards with the injuries and at the backs as well,” he said.
“But that is not an excuse. I still thought we could have played better but the standout thing for me is we came back in the end and scored a great try.
“If you look at it in context, we won by five last week and we were lucky winning by nine.”
With eight minutes to go in the match, there were only four points separating the sides with England threatening to cause an upset.
JP Pietersen, however, scored a superb try that took the game away from the tourists and flattered the scoreline.
“England got all the momentum and were probably good enough to win the game... we came back and scored a good try,” Meyer said.
“I thought we scored four really good tries and we just need to up the defence now.
“I think England can be proud of the way they played. It was a gutsy performance especially at altitude and coming back at us.” – Sapa