Meyer laments ‘soft’ moments
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer lamented the two soft moments that he believed led directly to South Africa’s 26-19 loss to Australia in their Rugby Championship clash at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday.
South Africa had built up an impressive-looking 13-3 lead after 26 minutes of the first half but they conceded two second-half tries, to replacement No 8 Scott Higginbotham and prop Ben Alexander, as Australia secured their fifth consecutive win over the Springboks and inflicted the first loss of Meyer’s reign as coach.
“It is all about handling pressure, being mentally tough and showing character ,and guys don’t make mistakes on purpose. We had a scrum just as Pat (Cilliers) came on that went down and they got a penalty which they kicked to the corner and they got points from there and Lwazi (Mvovo) missed a kick-off between him and Ruan (Pienaar) so there was a lack of communication there,” Meyer told a news conference after the game.
“Test match rugby is not always about who plays the best, it is about who handles the pressure the best. To win away from home you have to have a great game-plan and execute it. I thought we executed the game-plan well for the first 60 minutes. I thought we put them under pressure but we had two soft moments in the game that cost us.
"But all credit to the Wallabies. They came back when it mattered. There was a huge improvement but I’m still not happy with our performance. We need to play better,” he added.
Meyer said he had been pleased by a strong first-half performance which had seen the Springboks go to the break leading 13-6 and there had been an improvement in most of the areas where South Africa had struggled in the previous game, a 16-all draw with Argentina.
“We played better in most areas, against a quality side, than we did against Argentina. I thought we got enough quick ball but in the second half their defence was right in our face, they really defended well.
"When we got our drives going in the second half it was much better. Our tactical kicking game and our line chase was much better.
“But we took the pressure off them, especially in the last 20 minutes, when the line chase was not that good. You can see that Australia are an experienced side and they know how to win games, especially at home,” he said.
South Africa also have two worrying injury concerns. Wing Bryan Habana (ankle) and tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis (hamstring) both left the field but Meyer said that it was too early to make a call on the pair’s availability for next Saturday’s test against New Zealand in Dunedin.
Meyer was also full of praise for 20-year-old debutant flyhalf Johan Goosen who played the last 10 minutes of the match and seemed to add an attacking spark to the Springbok backline.
“I thought (flyhalf) Morne Steyn played well, it wasn’t a question about his play, I just thought we needed something special, especially being seven points behind. I have always believed that Johan Goosen is going to be a world-beater, he is a great flyhalf and it was a big test for him but I think he did superbly when he came on.
“There were two or three great breaks for a 20-year-old. I want to give exposure to Johan at this level,” he explained.