Cape Town – Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has lauded his squad for the way they stood up after three defeats to beat the All Blacks 31-29 in Gold Coast in the last Rugby Championship game of the season.
The Boks started strongly and were in control for most of the first half, with the All Blacks again showing how dangerous they are just before half time with some superb finishing.
The Boks started the second half lacking no intent and – despite allround top contributions from the entire team on the park – it was replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies who deserves a special mention for the class of his performance.
After fullback Willie le Roux was replaced by Frans Steyn at half time, Handre Pollard shifted out to 12, with Jantjies moving into the general’s role.
He connected two penalties – one after the hooter to boot the Boks to victory after massive work on the ground by Duane Vermeulen to win a penalty right in front of the posts. Jantjies also assisted a try, but his finest moment came when he snapped over a drop goal to regain the lead after Jordie Barrett booted his team into a short-lived lead (25-26).
Speaking after the game, Nienaber said the team never lost belief despite a tough time away from home.
“I have to give credit to this squad, with all the white noise out there, they never doubted, they never lost belief. With the second Test against Australia I was the first one to say that was probably our first performance since 2018, but the players never strayed from what they wanted to do,” he said.
“We kept going through our processes and going through our reviews and making new plans for the next weekend. When you play against quality teams the margins are so small, we were 20 seconds away from winning the Test against Australia, two or three minutes away from beating New Zealand last week. And this week I think we got the last call of the game. The margins are so small – it’s the bounce of the ball here or a misread there.”