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10 Jun 2012 12:24
JP Pietersen during the first Castle Lager Incoming Tour Test between South Africa and England. (Gallo)
The Springboks produced a tepid first half at Kings Park on Saturday, going into the break all square at 6-6, but they changed gear in the second period by running in two tries, including one from new captain Jean de Villiers, to secure a 22-17 win.
Their other five-pointer came courtesy of Morne Steyn, who contributed 17 points in total, with the hosts taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“The difficulty was just having the three days [to prepare],” Meyer said.
“It was a new start and a totally different game plan.
“A lot of these guys played tough Super Rugby [matches] a week ago and we knew England would be fresher and better prepared.
“There were a few things I was not happy with, especially in the first half but I was very happy when we got quick ball and quality ball in the second half.
‘Dangerous side’“You could see then that we could be a dangerous side.”
Meyer made some changes after the break, introducing Patrick Lambie and Ruan Pienaar and while he was pleased with their impact, he felt overall the Boks should have been more clinical.
“I thought we were great in the second half, although we should have finished off one or two more tries,” he said.
“We said from the start that we will use the whole bench. It’s a huge risk but we wanted to up the tempo of the game.
“We’ve got high standards, so obviously we want to improve on this but it was a really tough Test and I’m happy that we pulled through and got through this first one.”
Meyer felt the loose forward trio of man-of-the-match Willem Alberts, debutant Marcell Coetzee and number eight Pierre Spies were key to their victory.
“I’m very happy with them and I think they are one of the reasons we won the game,” he said.
Defensive lapse“I thought Willem Alberts was brilliant.
As a debutant, I thought Marcell Coetzee was unbelievable and Pierre had one of his best Tests in a while.”
The former Bulls coach felt there were still several areas in which they could improve, including the breakdown, while he was not pleased with the late defensive lapse that allowed Ben Foden to score at the death.
He was nonetheless delighted with the commitment of the players, which he believed would stand them in good stead going forward.
“I was really pleased with the guts and commitment, which is something you can’t coach,” Meyer said.
“It’s the one thing I wanted to see out there.
“There were a lot of bruises and a lot of guys bleeding for their country.”
South Africa will have a chance to clinch the series when they face England in the second Test at Ellis Park on Saturday.
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