SPRINGBOKS coach Heyneke Meyer congratulated New Zealand on winning the Castle Rugby Championship at Ellis Park on Saturday and expressed disappointed to the sell-out crowd who came to support the Springboks. Over 60 000 spectators attended the test match, which New Zealand won 38-27.
Bryan Habana scored two tries, which saw him move past Christian Cullen as the most prolific try-scorer in the history of the Rugby Championship / Tri-Nations, while Willie le Roux and Jean de Villiers also dotted down as the Boks scored four tries against NZ for the first time since 2004.
“We gave everything on attack and did well. I am disappointed in our defence though. When you play the best team in the world you cannot afford poor defence. It did let us down tonight,” Meyer said.
“We have conceded one try per test match this year, so it is not the structure. Today the guys shot out of line perhaps because they were too keen to make big hits,” the coach explained the defence issues that cost the team.
“The guys came out firing and this was one of the best games I have ever being involved with. We did go for the four tries, but we allowed them to score some soft tries.”
Meyer thanked the crowd.
“We had unbelievable support from the crowd, so by losing we feel very disappointed in letting them down. This team wants to do well for South Africa.”
The spectators did witness an epic game.
“Ball in play was one of the highest ever in a test match. We know now that we can score four tries against the All Blacks, something we wanted to prove to ourselves.”
The coach also feels that there was a massive upward curve in this year’s Rugby Championship, especially when compared to 2012.
“We had a great Championship. There was a record score in Soweto, a first win in Mendoza, a great win in Brisbane and biggest margin against Australia at Newlands. This is much better than last year and I think we improved tremendously. This team can go places.”
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was pointed out by Meyer as one of the stand-out players who played with real commitment and character.
De Villiers said they stayed positive after the visitors scored the fourth try that secured the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. “We stayed in the same frame of mind after they got the bonus point. We were still looking for the win first and foremost. Our defence just let us down badly tonight,” De Villiers said.
“A lot of credit must go to the coaching staff, the players maybe let the coach down a bit, and the belief was there from him that we can win this one.”
On the injuries to Bryan Habana and Willem Alberts, De Villiers offered no excuses.
“Bryan is our main attacking weapon and our main try scorer. He scored two in thirty, so who knows what he could have done. We lost our main ball carrier in Willem Alberts as well. He also stops people in defence. But the guys who replaced them also did well, so we are not dwelling on that. Our defence was a man-on-man thing, we did not make the tackles we should have.”