We let the country down - Heyneke
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer lamented his team’s lack of killer instinct in their 14-all draw in the third test against England, saying the team accepted that they let the country down.
Meyer repeated his mantra of playing winning rugby, but explained that his team’s form in the wet and windy conditions in Port Elizabeth was not good enough, and they were lucky to get the draw.
“The players know they haven’t played well. We have high standards and we want to win test matches. Tonight we let the country down,” Meyer said after the game.
“All credit to England. They adapted much better than us to the conditions. They probed once or twice behind us and then defended for their lives. It is no use making excuses – but a lot of our guys haven’t played under these conditions at test match rugby. But no excuses from us – England were the better team on the night”.
Much of the Boks' woes came from the boot of Morne Steyn, who missed three kicks again as his below-par run of form continued, and two drop kicks which certainly would have given his team a victory in bad conditions.
The Bok pivot was hardly helped by some indifferent performance by halfback Francois Hougaard, while the pack will have a lot of soul-searching to do after their performance on attack.
Meyer admitted he was worried about Steyn’s kicking but said he would have three weeks to right his wrongs before the team gets together for the Castle Rugby Championship after Super Rugby ends.
“Morne is a worry at the moment and we know he isn’t playing well at the moment. I thought he played quite well in the previous two games, it was just his kicking that was off. He has high standards and he will be back stronger.
"He has three Super Rugby games to get himself right and he knows we need him in the Castle Championship. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him, he just isn’t striking the ball well at the moment,” he added.
Meyer said that he thought about replacing Steyn with Elton Jantjies, but decided not to as there was a lack of experience on the field at the time.
“I thought about that, when Ruan came on he made a difference. It was always going to be a 50/50 game when it started raining. Obviously goalkicking is more difficult in these conditions but it is the same for both sides.”
Captain Jean de Villiers conceded that the team didn’t play well, but said they needed to learn from the experience and come back stronger.
“We didn’t play well. In set phases, we lost ball and our kicking game wasn’t good enough. I’m not just saying the kickers, but the chasing and contesting in the air, the platform to kick from and everything. You can only play as well as the opposition allows you and credit must go to England for the way they played.
"I thought we did well to come back and get the lead. We had an opportunity to finish off the game and we made a mistake and they came back and equaled things up,” De Villiers explained.
“As long as we move forward and learn from our mistakes it is fine, but if we keep on making the same mistakes then that is a worry.”
English coach Stuart Lancaster admitted he had mixed feelings about the draw, saying his side should have won.
“We have mixed feelings in terms of the result. We're bitterly disappointed that we didn't win,” Lancaster said.
“We are very happy with how we improved our defence. We've also learned quite a lot on this tour and the experience will be valuable. We are very happy to at least come away with something from this series.
“I think we gave an 80-minute performance tonight. A little disappointed with our discipline at times. We kept them in the game.”
South Africa will take solace that England’s winless streak now stretches to a record 10 matches, and that even though coach Meyer may not have been happy with the result, they at least won the test series 2-0.