LONDON: South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber bemoaned the three tries his side conceded in their epic 27-26 loss to England nL1N2SB0BQ at Twickenham on Saturday, a superb see-saw battle that was settled by a late Marcus Smith penalty for the hosts.
The Boks started slowly as England raced into a 17-6 lead midway through the first half with tries from Manu Tuilagi and Freddie Steward but they fought back to lead going into the final few minutes despite another home score from Raffi Quirke.
But just as they did in defeats by Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship, the Boks gave away a penalty in the closing seconds and were punished by the unerring boot of Smith.
“It (conceding the tries) was very disappointing, it was so out of character for the team," Nienaber told reporters.
“We are a team that usually concedes less than one try per game through the season. The two tries they scored in the first half, I definitely thought we could have handled those situations better.
“We did well to get back into the game and take the lead. The disappointing part is having to work hard to get a foothold in the game again and then not being able to see it out at the end.
“In three of our four defeats after the British & Irish Lions series we have been ahead with two minutes to go, so we as coaches need to look at how we close out games.
“We wanted to get good momentum going into 2022 and this is a little bit of a spanner in the works. It would have been lovely to end off on a high."
Nienaber brushed aside a question on whether the World Rugby ban nL1N2S820O handed down to South africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus had an effect on the team.
“We will stay away from that; we were just focused on England. I can’t say it had any influence."
The match was a 13th test of the year for the world champions, who won eight. But for Nienaber their major ambition was realised.
“We hadn’t played international rugby for a year and we said at the beginning of the season our biggest goal was to beat the British & Irish Lions. And we did that.
“The effort of the players and the sacrifices they have made (in bio-bubbles) is huge. This group never moaned; they took everything in their stride. The effort and the commitment was outstanding."
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