Deans hails Wallabies' character
September 8, 2012
Australia's Will Genia cuts a forlorn figure at the end of the game © Getty Images
Australia coach Robbie Deans was quick to praise his side's character following their battling 26-19 victory over South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash in Perth.
Chasing their first win in the competition following back-to-back defeats to New Zealand, the hosts battled back from a 13-6 half-time deficit with tries from Scott Higginbotham and Ben Alexander and 16 points from the boot of centre Berrick Barnes carrying them to a much-needed victory.
South Africa had looked on course for their second win of the campaign and a move above Australia into second place in the IRB World Rankings thanks to a first half try from prolific winger Bryan Habana but they had little answer to the resurgent Wallabies after the break.
''They showed real character tonight,'' said Deans. ''In the second half, we were able to get the ball for longer periods and ran some good lines. We did enough to come from behind, and that doesn't happen lightly in Mandela Cup games.''
In contrast, South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer slammed his team's mental shortcomings. "It is all about handling pressure, being mentally tough and showing character," said the Boks boss.
"Test match rugby is not always about who plays the best, it is about who handles the pressure the best. To win away from home you have to have a great game-plan and execute it. I thought we executed the game-plan well for the first 60 minutes. I thought we put them under pressure but we had two soft moments in the game that cost us. But all credit to the Wallabies. They came back when it mattered. There was a huge improvement but I'm still not happy with our performance. We need to play better," he added.
The victory came at a cost for the Wallabies with captain Will Genia sidelined with what looked like a serious knee injury. Australia have already lost two skippers to injury this season with James Horwill and David Pocock both currently sidelined.
But it could not diminish the significance of the result for the scrum-half. ''Really, you have to credit the whole group,'' Genia said. ''We have a lot of pride and were desperate to win this match. We wanted to show what we can do, and in the second half we were able to play the type of football that we wanted to play.''
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