Springboks: More questions than answers for head coach Jacques Nienaber after loss to Wallabies

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber cannot decipher why his side could not capitalise on their chances in their 25-17 loss to the Wallabies on Saturday.

The defeat means the Springboks remain without a win in Australia since 2013 as, despite having an extended period in the Wallabies’ red zone, they could not make the most of their opportunities and succumbed to defeat.

Unable to capitalise

Not being clinical enough is an issue the Springboks have struggled with this year as they have only taken their chances in patches throughout the season.

Nienaber credited Australia’s defence but knows this is an issue that needs to be addressed going forward.

“If you look at the last Test against Wales, there were three times that we were over the try-line and those were disallowed,” Nienaber said.

“Against New Zealand, we were over the try-line three or four times and they were disallowed. Tonight, we were over the try-line, or at least five metres away, and we didn’t score.

“I think it’s 50-50. Hats off to Australia, their defence was good. We didn’t capitalise. We are all emotional now. We will have to look and see why. We camped down in their 22, but didn’t get any conversion of points.”

No comment on Nic White incident

Nienaber avoided commenting on the incident that has the rugby world talking that saw Wallabies scrum-half Nic White go to ground theatrically after Faf de Klerk’s hand struck his face, leading to the Springbok spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

“I am going to try and stay clear of that,” Nienaber said. “It is what it is. The referee has made the decision and we have to live with it. The yellow came at a bad time, they capitalised nicely on it. It’s not nice to lose a nine, especially on defence.

“Looking back on it, we could have controlled that period defensively a bit better. If it’s a yellow card, then it’s a yellow card. We could have handled it better, both the team and the coaches.

“We can only look at ourselves. We can’t control anything other than what we can control. We will only look at ourselves.”

The coach was also at a loss in explaining why his side could not capitalise on a Wallabies yellow card, despite being clear in his instructions to the team.

“To be honest, we will have to have a look at it. I am not sure,” Nienaber said.

“Maybe a bit of naive tactics from our side. Last week, when New Zealand went down to 14 men I thought we were a little bit naive in terms of how we as the coaches handled it, closing out those last seven minutes. We could have kept the ball in hand a little bit more, but we addressed that.

“I thought we as the coaches could have been more clinical and clear with messages coming from on top. Tonight, I am not sure and will have to have a look it. When we went down to 14, they put us under pressure, but when they were 14 men, we struggled to put the ball into the space where that winger would have been.”

Poor start

The 49-year-old was disappointed with how slowly the Springboks started but, again, struggled to decipher what went wrong.

“I can’t put my finger on that. I don’t think you can control a good start,” he added. “They started the game, we expected the ball to come down the middle and they won the turnover, put pressure and scored. You can’t plan for a good start, but you can plan to bring intensity.

“I don’t know why that happened, to be honest.”

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