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12 Nov 2006 00:48
South Africa were let down by their tackling on Saturday, captain John Smit said after his side’s 32-15 defeat to Ireland in Dublin.
The inexperienced Springbok team, without stalwarts like Os du Randt and Victor Matfield who were left at home to test new players ahead of next year’s World Cup, missed a remarkable 30 tackles against the composed Irish.
“It is probably the thing that let us down the most,” Smit told reporters.
He said the Springboks had put a lot of work into defence in training over the past week but “a lot of the basics weren’t applied today”.
Smit and coach Jake White praised the Irish side, who played a running game from the outset, and said he would mull changes to his side ahead of the two upcoming Tests against England.
In particular he may look at the centre pairing after moving winger Bryan Habana to 13 where he partnered Jean de Villiers.
“I’ve got to question whether that centre partnership would win international Test matches,” he said.
White praised newcomer Francois Steyn, who scored South Africa’s first try playing on the wing and looked the best of the backs.
“I think Francois Steyn really looked as though he was an international player,” he said.
White said England should not be underestimated despite losses to Australia and Argentina at home in the last two weeks.
“That doesn’t make England a poor rugby team,” he said of a team who have beaten South Africa in their last six meetings. “We haven’t toured well in Twickenham for 10 years”.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll said he was pleased his side kept up momentum for the full 80 minutes.
“I think it was a better performance than two years ago,” he said.
Eddie O’Sullivan praised his side’s dominance of the match.
“We took the game to South Africa at every opportunity.
I also was very pleased with our work at the breakdown…they found it hard to get a rhythm.” - Reuters
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