Hougaard helped by better breakdown performance

An improved performance at the breakdowns contributed to Francois Hougaard looking more comfortable at scrumhalf in the Springboks’ 36-27 victory over England at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Bok halfback came under scrutiny after he looked hesitant in the first match a week ago, where his service was perceived to be slow.

“I struggled a bit during the first game, it was a bit scrappy on my side after we only spent a short time together in camp,” said Hougaard.

“This time we started really well and got quick ball.”

He said the forwards’ improved accuracy at the breakdowns ensured that he had an easier day at the office.

“I think we are a very dangerous side when we get quick ball so I think the breakdowns were much better,” he said.

“I’m satisfied with the way I played, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.”

Hougaard felt the more time they spent together as a team, the more they would improve. The Bulls scrumhalf, however, said the Boks still had much to improve on as the side’s second half exploits exposed some of their weaknesses.

“The more time we spend together, the running lines and ruck balls we get will improve,” said Hougaard.

“We placed emphasis on the breakdowns this week and it showed out there.”

He said the side was not satisfied with their execution on Saturday and they would iron out some of the slip-ups.

“We made a lot of mistakes that we will have to correct this week, although we played well in the first half, we let them back into the game,” Hougaard said.

The Boks clinched the three-match series with their victory on Saturday which was their ninth consecutive over the Roses equalling New Zealand’s record over the English.

Hougaard, however, said the side had not yet popped the champagne bottles as it was expected of them to win on home soil. The team will also be looking for a whitewash over England when the sides meet each other in the third and final Test in Port Elizabeth next week.

“Our focus wasn’t as much on winning the series as it was to play well every time we represent our country,” he said.

“So we will approach the next one as we did the first two.”

He said it was important for the team to remain humble in victory as they still had a lot to improve on.

“It wasn’t a case of us jumping for joy after the final whistle, we are expected to win at home and we need to be more convincing,” he said.

“The fact that the guys didn’t go ballistic afterwards is a sign that we have our feet on the ground and we know there is a lot of hard work ahead of us.” – Sapa


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