BLOEMFONTEIN – For the second week in a row, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has lauded his team’s composure and character after they came from behind again against England to win the second Test in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
After winning 42-39 in the first Test in Joburg – after being 24-3 down midway through the first half – the Boks hit back here in the second Test after going 12-0 down early on. The South Africans then scored 23 unanswered points to bag the three-Test series, with a match to come at Newlands in Cape Town this week.
It was a fifth straight Test loss for England boss Eddie Jones, who called the 80-minute effort by his team “a horror show”, while the win gave birthday boy Siya Kolisi his first series win as Bok skipper. It was also a day to remember for Tendai Mtawarira who played his 100th Test for the Boks.
“The character of the guys again came through,” said a happy Erasmus. “The composure they showed was also impressive... and they were able to adapt a little quicker this week. In a way, what happened in the first Test prepared us for this week, knowing we could come back. What we have gone through in the last two weeks will definitely benefit us in future.”
Erasmus aid he was especially pleased for defence coach Jacques Nienaber, who would have been a nervous man again after the first quarter of the match when England again caught the Boks out in the wide channels.
“I’m very pleased for Jacques... England didn’t score for 67 minutes, and to get that right after a shocking opening 13 minutes again is pleasing. Keeping England scoreless for that long is a big positive... we can build on that.”
With the series wrapped up, the Boks will now head to Cape Town to try make it a clean sweep against the English. “It’s nice to have the series wrapped up, but we want to try to win it 3-0,” said Erasmus.
“We will try a few things in Cape Town, try different guys, put them under different pressure in different circumstances. We can now breathe easier, but it’s going to be another big day for us.”
Kolisi said he was pleased his players kept fighting again and didn’t panic after conceding two early tries for the second week in succession. “The coaches want the effort... they’re not too worried about us making mistakes, as long as we keep fighting.
“And having come back last week gave us confidence we could do it again. Credit must also again go to guys like Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux, who helped keep things under control; they’ve been massive for us. It’s a great feeling to have won the series.”