South Africa 18-5 New Zealand, Port Elizabeth, August 20
De Villiers hails battling Boks
August 20, 2011
South Africa's Bakkies Brussow squares up to New Zealand's Sam Whitelock © Getty Images
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers was full of praise for his side after their battling 18-5 victory over New Zealand at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
De Villiers watched his side snap a three-game losing streak and prevent a first-ever Tri-Nations whitewash with fly-half Morne Steyn steering his side home with five penalties and a drop goal. The win also provides the Springboks with a timely boost ahead of the defence of their Rugby World Cup crown.
"The victory was a just reward for the hard work that we were able to put in a very short space of time," said De Villiers. "Last week we had a chance after many players were out injured, and I thought that we player better at stages last week. But I also want to say that I'm grateful to the people of Port Elizabeth for their support. This win will do us good, and the people will start believing in us again.
"I must also pay tribute to the character of this Bok team, especially when you have guys like Victor [Matfield] and Heinrich [Brussouw] who picked up injuries in the second half and then carried on playing. I'm pleased to say we're right on track. Our line-outs were good and it provided a good platform for the backs."
The All Blacks grabbed the only try of the game through centre Richard Kahui but they were left to rue several missed opportunities in the first half. "It may have been a different situation at the end of the game had we taken our chances,' said head coach Graham Henry. "The Boks were very good; they scrambled well on defence and played with a lot of passion, and kicked their goals. But we had six opportunities to score and only took one of them.
"I don't think there is anything wrong with our game plan. We created plenty of opportunities. When we get a few of the more experienced players back, I expect things will settle down a bit."
His sentiments were echoed by assistant coach Wayne Smith who commented, "It's not often that you break the line 23 times and you lose. It says a lot for the Boks' scrambling defence. We perhaps lacked patience in those try-scoring situations. Maybe it's the new combinations or the youth, or maybe South Africa were just too good."
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