PERTH – The fact Springbok coach Allister Coetzee was unhappy with the 23-all draw against Australia in their Rugby Championship clash was indicative of how much the team has grown in 2017.
The Springboks’ winless run in Australia now stretches to four years but they are still unbeaten this year.
Coetzee reckoned they should have hauled themselves over the line and they had chances to do so.
However‚ composure is a mental skill that’s not acquired overnight and a nib Stadium that was more Western Force than the Wallabies‚ it departed them at a crucial juncture.
Coetzee though was quick to acknowledge that they’re a far from finished product.
“We’re really not happy with the result. I’m pleased with the performance as a whole. We came back from 20-10 and that showed the character of the team and we’re growing as a team facing different challenges. We had three linebreaks in the last 20 minutes and we didn’t have any reward for that. I’m not happy with a draw‚ we’re not happy with a draw. I don’t think any Springbok side would be happy with a draw. We did enough but our discipline let us down in the first half‚” Coetzee said.
“Defensively we were good and the most important thing was how we adapted to the conditions in the second half. I have to watch the tape again but the big plus was the character shown by the team. We are continuing to scrum well and we are happy with that. Our lineout play has been very good this year and there’s been a massive improvement in our mauling.”
The All Blacks loom large in Albany next week and Coetzee said they were well served by focusing on one game at a time.
Considering how poor the Boks were last year‚ they couldn’t be accused of looking ahead while they were preparing for another match.
An impressive aspect was how the Boks kept their structure together in the last 20 minutes before bottling the game in the last three minutes.
The Boks also showed impressive character to salvage the game after trailing 20-10 after Tatafu Polota-Nau’s 47th minute try as the Wallabies capitalised on their 13-10 half-time lead.
With the All Blacks being masters at wearing down opposition before putting them away in the last 20 minutes‚ Coetzee was happy with how his team managed the game in the last quarter.
Coetzee though admitted they were still light years behind the All Blacks from a collective conditioning perspective.
“The All Blacks could have shifted gears in the last 10 years because they have been working together as a nation to make sure their conditioning is right up there. Australia and South Africa have been in similar situations where there hasn’t been decent collaboration and we started that last year. When you get the national team two weeks before a test‚ how much conditioning can you do?‚” Coetzee asked.”
“It means the players are spending 37 weeks with the franchises and 13 weeks with the Springboks. Where should the conditioning take place? It has to take place at franchise level and that’s what we started last year. It’s not perfect yet but we’re heading in the right direction. We’re at a much higher level now.”