De Villiers looks on the bright side
December 4, 2010
The Barbarians celebrate Quintin Geldenhuys' crucial second-half try at Twickenham © Getty Images
South Africa may have been beaten by the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday but head coach Peter de Villiers was encouraged by what he saw from his side.
The Springboks made 12 changes in personnel to the side which pummelled England into submission at the same venue the weekend before and it showed, as the world champions were ripped apart by the Baa Baas in the first half, with Wallaby stars Drew Mitchell and James O'Connor scoring three tries between them in the opening quarter.
The Springboks rallied in the second half but despite tries from Odwa Ndungane, Bakkies Botha and Bandise Maku, they came out on the wrong end of a 26-20 defeat, with Quintin Geldenhuys' try ultimately proving key.
It might have seemed like a bad way for the Boks to end their tour of Great Britain and Ireland but de Villiers felt that there a lot of positives for him to draw from the match.
"Today we lost the game but we won a lot in other respects. It wasn't a Test match but it was a test to see how good we really are with our youngsters and our depth. We are really very happy where we stand," he said.
"We had two regular starters in the team and to come back against these world stars they made a lot of yardage.
"They were very big-eyed and disjointed in the first half. Everybody wanted to show what they could do and the team didn't peform as a unit. But we talked at half-time and they pulled it together. Our youngsters did very well."
Meanwhile, Nick Mallett was ecstatic after leading the Baa Baas to a victory over the land of his birth.
"It's a strange feeling when you hear the national anthem of the team you've coached but I take my hat off to these guys," the Italy boss said.
"The first 30 minutes was some of the best rugby I've seen in the November Tests. We cut South Africa to pieces in the first half hour and left a couple more tries out there. We got some great ball in the first half but then South Africa put us under pressure in the second."
The Baa Baas lit up Twickenham with some typically exciting back-line play but captain Matt Giteau felt that his side's forwards deserved all of the credit for the victory.
"It's a tough week because you don't have time to prepare but our forwards made a lot of yards and as a captain that's all you can ask," the Australian said. "When a national side gets beaten by an invitation team that's a very important game. It's got huge relevance."
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