South Africa 9-14 Australia, Tri-Nations, August 13
De Villiers refusing to panic
August 13, 2011
South Africa coach Peter De Villiers reflects on defeat to Australia © Getty Images
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers was quick to point to the positives after his side slipped to a 14-9 Tri-Nations defeat to Australia in Durban.
The Boks slumped to their third successive defeat this year despite having led 6-0 at the break with an early penalty from Frans Steyn and two further kicks from Butch James not enough to deny the Wallabies their third successive win against South Africa. A try from Pat McCabe and three penalties from James O'Connor gave Australia a deserved victory but but De Villiers played down the significance of the result, pointing to the the fact that many of his players had not played any competitive rugby in the last month or even longer.
"Yes, we expected the players to lose steam, but I was very happy with our good start," he said following the Kings Park clash. "Unfortunately we did not convert all our efforts into points. It was very difficult to play catch up rugby late in the game, but we saw a lot of positives, especially the way in which we controlled the game in the first half.
"We would have like to lead by more than 6-0 at half time. We did create chances and had to take them, but this was our first time together as a team this year. Having said that, you'd expect the experienced guys to our convert efforts into points. People should be disillusioned. I am too, but I'm happy with certain things we achieved today. If we converted one or two opportunities, if would've been a different game."
De Villiers was not upset by Jaque Fourie's disallowed try, adding: "These things go against you, it's something you can't control and is part of the game. Their try came when Frans Steyn tweaked his hammy and Heinrich Brüssow slipped and fell. It was unlucky for us and it doesn't feel good, but I think we lost the game on the score board only."
Springboks captain John Smit was also left to rue his side's missed chances. "We should have converted two or three opportunities in the first half. I was concerned that we only lead by 6-0, considering the amount of rugby we played in the first half. It was disappointing and we're certainly not proud of the result, but there is a lot to draw from this. We have to keep on working hard next week."
Australia coach Robbie Deans hailed his side's latest success, against the most experienced side Springboks side ever, that keeps their Tri-Nations hopes alive. "In terms of preparation there's no doubt it's great. We played against the most experienced Bok side tonight on their home soil and (it was) their current World Cup selection, essentially.
"Against these blokes you can't duck. You have to front up physically," he said. "I was proud of the resilience we showed," he said. "We created opportunities and didn't finish them. It would have been easy for the group to go into decline but they stuck at it, they were good in the contact and I believe we deserved the result."
Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom was also full of praise the the way his side rose to the challenge. "Things didn't go our way early on but we fought back. We stuck to what we knew and I'm very happy to come away with a win."
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