Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said his team have belief again after snapping a long win drought in Australia, with their focus now on a crunch double-header against Argentina in a wide-open Rugby Championship race.
South Africa had not tasted victory in Australia for nine years, and in Sydney since 1993, but put their demons to bed in a fiery 24-8 bonus point win over the Wallabies at a heaving Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
The Springboks dominated territory and possession in the four-tries-to-one victory to bounce back after two straight defeats in the four-nation southern hemisphere tournament.
“The coaching staff had a certain game plan they wanted us to play because they wanted us to win. But the biggest change was the belief that we could do it,” said Kolisi, who led from the front with an inspirational performance.
“It was a tough week for us as a team, and we understand that our fans were hurting too, so I’d like to thank them for sticking with us.
“We really wanted to stay in the Rugby Championship race, and it has been a long nine years since we last won here.”
The win leaves South Africa level on points with Australia and Argentina and just one behind leaders New Zealand with two matches to go in a tight title tussle.
Kolisi’s men travel to Buenos Aires in two weeks to face a rattled Pumas, who came crashing back to earth in a 53-3 thrashing by the All Blacks in Hamilton.
“They are going to be tough, we know we have two challenging games ahead,” Kolisi said of Argentina.
‘A big step-up’
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said he was particularly pleased with how his team converted their chances after squandering too many in their 25-17 loss to the Wallabies a week earlier.
“Last week we created opportunities and didn’t take them and that was better,” he said.
“We also weren’t happy with the intensity last week and are pleased that we also made a big step-up in that regard.”
Injuries and a desire to experiment has seen Nienaber use 32 players across South Africa’s opening four Rugby Championship games, which he admitted had been disruptive.
But it is all part of his long-term planning for the defence of their title at the World Cup in France next year.
“It is tough on teams, but at the same time it gives us answers with an eye on the Rugby World Cup,” he said.
None of the southern hemisphere teams have been able to show consistency this year, with all four winning two and losing two Rugby Championship games.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said it “highlights how tough international footy is at the moment” and that “the teams are so even, if you’re five percent off you get hurt”.
He was left frustrated after Australia again failed to back up a win as they turn their attention to a tough double-header against New Zealand in their search for a first title since 2015.
The Wallabies have injury worries after backs Hunter Paisami and Noah Lolesio went off with head knocks and forward Taniela Tupou appeared to tweak his calf in the warm-up.
“They certainly defended and we struggled to get any continuity — they strangled us pretty well,” Rennie said. “The quality of our carry and the urgency around our cleanouts has got to be better.
“Our job is to make sure we can get that sort of stuff going against the All Blacks in a couple of weeks.”
Source: Modern Ghana