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07 Nov 2009 16:39
South Africa assistant coach Dick Muir admitted he had never seen such a poor performance from a Springbok front five as the world champions went down to a shock defeat to Leicester.
Leicester clinched a 22-17 win before a record crowd at Welford Road on Friday night as the mighty Springboks suffered a dismal start to their northern hemisphere tour.
The Premiership champions even overcame the handicap of missing England internationals - Tom Croft, Lewis Moody, Jordan Crane, Dan Hipkiss and Louis Deacon—as well as having eight players on the injury list.
“You can’t play this game without any possession,” said Muir, who is in temporary charge before the arrival of Peter de Villiers.
“We were poor at the breakdown and poor at set pieces so we couldn’t get the game going.”
Muir named nine uncapped players and admitted that their strategy had not paid off.
But the former Springboks centre believes this defeat should spur the Tri-Nations winners on to improved showings against France, Italy and Ireland.
“We just move on. We came over here with an experiment and perhaps it didn’t come off as planned,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen [a South Africa pack] as bad as that, especially from a coaching perspective.
We were given a bit of a lesson at the scrums.
“Hats off to the Tigers.
The tourists should also be bolstered by the return of their inspirational locks Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha for next Friday’s clash with France.
Muir added: “Nobody likes losing. When you take a squad like this and have a short turnaround maybe you’re not as well prepared as you might be.
“It will probably cause the guys to be a little bit more
determined. When you’re on the top of the pile there’s a lot of sides who want to knock you off, so that’s the territory we’ve created for ourselves.”
The Tigers went 8-0 down through a penalty and Jongi Nokwe’s try.
But the home side hit back to go 16-8 ahead with Lucas Amorosino scoring a try and Ben Youngs adding three penalties. Six more points from Youngs put the Tigers in control, and the home side held on to seal victory.
Tigers head coach Richard Cockerill was keen to prove wrong those who questioned the timing of the game, given Leicester’s lengthy injury list and their upcoming Cup clash at Leeds on Sunday.
“I’d have to take my hat off to the players,” he said.
“It was all about us tonight and the facilities we’re trying to provide. Maybe South Africa are a little shell-shocked that club rugby can be like that.
“The spirit here is second to none and I don’t know where it comes from. Our scrum was immense and Geoff Parling was superb in the front row.
“Rugby can get quite scientific in its analysis these days. Sometimes you just need 15 blokes to come here and roll their sleeves up. The scientists can’t quantify that. And that’s what we did tonight.” - AFP
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