PORT ELIZABETH - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says he’s pleased with the performance the team produced against Argentina on Saturday, but added that there are still a few areas they need to work on if they want to get a winning result in Salta as well.
The Boks were rewarded for their good efforts in their opening Rugby Championship match with a 37-15 win over the Pumas at a lively Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and Coetzee said that ongoing improvement in their set-pieces - although it was good at the weekend - will be crucial as they prepare for this Saturday’s return leg in Argentina.
“I’m definitely very pleased with the win, but it was not a perfect performance,” Coetzee said.
“It’s never easy in Salta. But we’re just going to keep building on our processes - you have to keep improving on your scrum, your lineout, your mauling and your kicking game.
“I think we were spot on with our defensive tactics and we handled the high balls, and that’s a massive positive in terms of our progress.”
Coetzee really had a lot to be pleased with.
The Springboks certainly looked promising with ball in hand on Saturday. They used the width of the field, and they scored four nice tries and, as the game progressed, they showed good decision-making and used their chances - something that could have been seen as a bit of an issue in the first half.
They did much better in the second half, and what was a tight game for the first two quarters undoubtedly became the Boks’ in the second half.
Overall, they just looked better than they did in June against France. The Springboks played with intent, and it was also great to see their wings, Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule - who both crossed the try line - brought into the game the way they were.
And when asked what was said during half time to help boost the players, Coetzee said: “It was a matter of changing the tactics a little bit and getting the ball in behind them. The message at halftime was for them to stay patient and that we’ll find the space, and we did. I think the team’s patience also showed that this was their fourth Test playing together.
“It was great to see how players back themselves.”
The Springboks also produced a great effort at scrum time - with tighthead and Man of the Match Coenie Oosthuizen stamping down in a big way - while their defence also held up well.
So it’s safe to say that the Boks will want to take a lot from their first match against the Argentinians into the second, and the fact that they know what to expect should make their preparation even more efficient.
But they also know what not to do.
During the post-match press conference, Coetzee said that they “learnt lessons” from last year - when the Boks had an outing in Salta they’d rather forget - and explained that they will get most of their work done in South Africa before heading to Argentina.
“We’ve learnt lessons from last year. We’ll stay behind in PE and train on Monday and Tuesday, and then we’ll travel on our off day. Most of our work will be done in South Africa - because otherwise you lose your most important training days Mondays and Tuesdays,” the Bok coach said.