Skip to content

Nienaber Sees Room For Improvement Despite Record Win Over All Blacks

  • 3 min read

South Africa are not reading too much into their record 35-7 victory over New Zealand in a Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture at neutral Twickenham on Friday, their final outing before the defence of their title in France.

The Springboks ran in five tries to one to inflict a heaviest ever defeat on the All Blacks and dominated their rivals up front, but coach Jacques Nienaber said there was still room for improvement before they play Scotland in their World Cup opener in Marseille on Sept. 10.

The Boks bounced back from a 35-20 loss to New Zealand in Auckland in the Rugby Championship last month and showed they had learned the lessons from that defeat.

“After the last game against New Zealand we had to adjust a few things and we made some plans,” Nienaber said. “The players came with some good suggestions, and the coaches as well. We found some solutions, some worked and others didn’t.

“But ultimately we don’t get a single point at the World Cup for tonight. I think New Zealand will feel the same. It is what it is, an opportunity to prepare for France, nothing more than that.”

Nienaber felt his side’s execution in the opening 20 minutes, when they were camped in the All Blacks’ 22, could have been better.

“We had a lot of opportunities in the first 20 minutes. In the whole game we had eight (scoring) opportunities and were held up (over the try line) twice,” he said

“In the World Cup you get only four or five opportunities and you have to capitalise on them. That is something we will try and fix in the next two weeks.”

The Boks were boosted, in a way, by a piece of misfortune for replacement fullback Willie le Roux, who was injured in the warm-ups and replaced on the bench by mobile forward Kwagga Smith, giving South Africa an unprecedented 7-1 split between forwards and backs.

“Willie picked up a little niggle and we didn’t want to risk him for this game,” Nienaber said, admitting his side took a gamble in replacing him with Smith.

“The least risk for a bench is a 5-3 split to cover the most positions. 7-1 is a big risk, and we were fortunate tonight we did not get any backline injuries.

“It is something that we train for, with certain forwards to fulfill some roles in backline play. We have to plan for those scenarios with all the yellow cards that go around these days.”