Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber bemoaned the first half performance that put his side on the backfoot of their opening test match of 2022 against Wales, as they came back from being behind 18-3 at half-time to snatch a 32-29 victory right at the death at the Loftus Versfeld yesterday.

Playing in front of a full capacity for the first time on home soil since they were crowned World Champions for the third time three years ago, the Boks needed a big second half performance to reduce the 15-point half-time deficit in the first match of the three-Test Castle Lager Incoming Series.
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Nienaber lets us in on his half-time talk that led to a big second-half performance.

“The first half wasn’t great, yah we came back from 18-3 so I said to the guys afterwards ‘you know that’s one thing they never give up’. We score 28 points, they stay calm half time and calm during the second half so I think our much focus maybe on that, the 28 points was scored on second half I thought that was good, said Nienaber.

“But the first half didn’t go our ways as we planned, I thought we created some opportunities, it didn’t capitalise and they had great opportunities which had finish off”

Boks scored four tries in the second half through hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx as well as a penalty try from a collapsed maul, with wing Cheslin Kolbe grabbing a fourth. The win was sealed by a last minute penalty from Damian Willemse, as the Welsh were looking to win for the first time on South African soil.

It wasn’t an easy game as Boks captain Siya Kolisi also describes the off the ball wrangling with the visitors.

“Ja, those things happen in the game, obvious I think they got under our skin you know. Things weren’t going our way the first half we couldn’t get the mole going we did a couple of things out of character but what they wanted to do they did it in the first half-everything was going to their term our moves weren’t really going but like coach said the way we came back- and there wasn’t panic, like we didn’t feel like in any stage there is no ways we gonna come back to the game, we know we got a capable open, we stuck to it we went mole after mole. we wanted to work it in the beginning but it didn’t after a while it pay off” Kolisi explained.

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Nienaber was also full of praise for Willemse’s match winning; following a big second half performance when the team needed him the most. With Elton Jantjies struggling on the day, Willemse took over the kicking duties and drove the team to hard fought victory and the Boks mentor says the Stormers backliner has been their pet project for the past four years.

By Velile Mnyandu

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