Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber was delighted with the turnaround from last week’s loss to Australia as an experimental side ran in four tries to one to beat the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.
The visitors tore into the Australians from the start and were well worth their 24-8 victory in front of 38 292 fans, a vocal minority supporting the Springboks, at the new Sydney Football Stadium.
“Last week, we created a couple of opportunities and didn’t take them, I thought that was better tonight,” he told reporters.
“And we weren’t happy with the intensity of the start last week, particularly in the first 20-25 minutes, and I thought that was a big step up today.”
A bonus-point 24-8 win for Springboks
Nienaber had made eight changes to his side, several forced by injury, handing teenage winger Canan Moodie his debut and moving fullback Damian Willemse up into the line at flyhalf.
Moodie repaid him with the team’s second try, while Willemse was named Man of the Match after an assured performance in the playmaking role.
“Very happy and proud of Canan,” said Nienaber.
“We’ve been following him for quite some time. As you know, there were some injuries and he was the fifth or sixth right winger. In the last four games in the Rugby Championship, we’ve used 32 players which is quite tough on the team.”
Nienaber added: “Whilst trying to win the Rugby Championship we also need to get some answers on some positions going into the World Cup. The thing you sacrifice is continuity but the nice thing tonight is the team never lost belief.”
Next up for the Springboks, who are second in the championship on points difference behind New Zealand, is two tests against Argentina.
Nienaber said he would look at who was available after assessing any injuries but did not rule out more experiments with the World Cup title defence a little more than a year away.
“I know sometimes that comes with an element of risk but we need some answers,” he said.
South Africa blitz woeful Australia in tempestuous Rugby Championship Test: