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Rustiness nearly cost the Boks :Smit


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Springbok captain John Smit admitted after his team’s narrow 26-21 win over the British and Irish Lions in Durban on Saturday that they may have been rusty and that they did lose concentration.

“Perhaps there was rustiness involved, and we lapsed in concentration,” Smit said after the Lions had come back from 26-7 down with only 11 minutes to play to nearly snatch victory.

“I felt we were pretty rusty and that the intensity was not what it should have been.”

He also admitted that the kicking, especially in the second half, was not up to standard and that they would have to work on that aspect of the game.

While Smit was upbeat about their scrummaging performance, where Man of the Match Beast Mtawarira gave Lions veteran tighthead Phil Vickery a real working over, his opposite number Paul O’Connel said he couldn’t quite understand why they had been penalised so often in the scrums.

Along with coach Ian McGeechan he pointed out that Vickery was an experienced Test player, and while he understood that he could be penalised once or twice, if was difficult to fathom why Vickery would have transgressed four or five times in a row without adapting. “Every time he seemed to be reffing us and not them,” O’Connell said.

Like McGeechan, he felt the Lions had played well, and added that the two missed penalties in the first half by Stephen Jones and the three tries where they were over the tryline without finishing had cost them.

“Every time we were penalised we lost territory, and those three chances could have changed the game,” O’Connell said. He added that his team were looking forward to next weekend’s second Test match.

“The second half will give us great belief next weekend,” he said. McGeechan said he was “delighted with the performance and it gives us lots of confidence for next week. “

He was especially pleased that they created opportunities throughout the match – and he will certainly be pleased that the Lions outscored the Springboks by three tries to two.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said that “you take whatever you get in this game. We’ll take the win.” He admitted that his side had never taken control and looked a little “flat.”

De Villiers’ replacements were perhaps done a little early, he felt.

The replacement of Bakkies Botha, who was his impressive self, Heinrich Brussow and Mtawarira saw the Boks’ control in the scrums and on the ground come to an end when they were replaced. The Boks also had less drive in general play with a clearly unfit Andries Bekker taking over from the influential Botha.

De Villiers said they would work on the midfield area where the Springboks’ backline was broken too often for comfort, while Smit added that that the kicking of the Boks would also be given attention over the next few days.

No news yet on the seriousness of the injuries to Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez (shoulder) and Lions fullback Lee Byrne (heel).

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