South Africa's lock Lood de Jager catches the ball in a line out against England. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP
South Africa's lock Lood de Jager catches the ball in a line out against England. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Lood de Jager felt England unsettled Boks: ‘Quite small margins, and we could’ve taken our chances better’

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Nov 21, 2021

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Cape Town – Lood de Jager felt that “small margins” arguably cost the Springboks a sweet victory after they went down 27-26 in the final minute to England at Twickenham on Saturday night.

The world champions had fought back from 17-12 down at halftime to lead 26-23 with a few minutes to go, but conceded a late penalty that England flyhalf Marcus Smith booted over in the closing stages to seal a welcome triumph for the home side, having lost the 2019 Rugby World Cup final 32-12 in Yokohama.

De Jager, who is normally dominant in the lineouts, found the going tough against a well-prepared English pack, who put the South African set-piece under pressure at the throw-ins and in the scrums.

The Boks eventually found their mojo and were right on top in the physical exchanges in the second half, but were unable to close out the game.

“They obviously made plans… they’re a good side, they’re well-coached. So, they came into the game with a good plan, and unsettled us in the beginning. But I think we adapted to the situation well,” the 28-year-old De Jager said after the match.

“We kind of picked up what their plan was, and adapted accordingly. But credit to them: they came with good plans, and I think we’ll be better for it the next time we play them.

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“It’s quite small margins in Test rugby. I thought at times we mauled very well, and got good rewards. But it’s those small margins… we didn’t totally convert that. We were once over the line and couldn’t dot the ball down.

“We could’ve taken our chances better, as I really thought we left a lot of points out there tonight. But all we can do now is learn from our mistakes and do better the next time we’re on the field.”

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber will not be satisfied with a 2021 scoreboard that states played 13, won eight and lost five, with his team coming close to remaining unbeaten on the end-of-year tour for the first time since 2013.

But while it was not to be for Siya Kolisi and his team, De Jager, who earned his 56th Test cap at Twickenham, felt that they had still done reasonably well.

ALSO READ: It’s disappointing to lose from a winning position again, says Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber

Asked if he viewed the season as a success, the No 5 said: “Yes, I think so. It was a long year in terms of our schedule. There were many challenges – if you look at the Rugby Championship, where we played six games in a row, and we were away from home.

ALSO READ: Captain Siya Kolisi praises Springboks for the way they stood up against England despite off-field disruptions

“But we learnt a lot as a group from each other throughout the year. I think we will be better in future because of this year. We learnt a lot of lessons. It was quite a mixed bag of results, but at times, we played very good rugby.

“The biggest challenge for us this year was the Lions – the biggest competition, and the one we wanted to win the most – and we did that.

“For the rest of the year, we were disappointed a few times when it comes to results, but as a whole, it was a good year, where we learnt a lot as a group, and we built up a lot of experience as a group.”

@AshfakMohamed

IOL Sport

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