South African coach Heyneke Meyer spoke of “the long road ahead” after his team’s 36-27 series clinching win over England.
However, he will be far more concerned about the injury count after the Springboks’ four tries to three victory in Johannesburg on Saturday.
South Africa survived a brave second-half comeback from England to take a winning 2-0 lead in the three-Test series. The teams meet in Port Elizabeth next week.
Star lock Juandre Kruger has been sent to hospital for X-rays after suffering a neck injury during a tackle in the second half.
His potential loss could be a huge blow. With Victor Matfield retired and Andries Bekker still out for a few more weeks, Meyer is going to have a problem replacing Kruger if the worst fears are confirmed and he is ruled out of the final test in Port Elizabeth next Saturday.
There were other injuries early in the second half that contributed to the Boks’ loss of momentum, after they raced into a 22-3 lead, 25-10 at half-time and 28-10 just after the break.
Fullback Pat Lambie battled on bravely after landing badly and injuring his ankle in going for a ball in the air in the first half. He was eventually replaced in the 44th minute.
Barnstorming loose forward Willem Alberts, one of the standout performers in a dominant first half, suffered a knee injury and limped off in the 52nd minute.
Both Lambie and Alberts will be assessed on Sunday.
“Injuries are part of rugby so I don’t want to complain about it, but the one England try was scored when Juandre was down, and the other one was the result of an overthrow at a line-out.
“Lambie went off injured and it was the second time in the space of a week that we have lost a fullback. Frans Steyn can play fullback, but he hasn’t done so for a while and it required a bit of an adjustment.”
The Bok coach admitted his team would learn much from the match.
“There is a long road ahead,” Meyer said in his post-match media briefing.
“I think England played well. It was a gutsy performance coming back like that, especially at altitude. I think they can be proud of themselves.
“In the first half we played Super 15 [style] rugby, and it was great to watch. But to put two performances like that together for 80 minutes is tough.
“You can’t just go out and score tries, this is Test match rugby and you have to grind it out. We will learn a lot from games like that.
“I watched the Six Nations and could see a lot of energy coming into the England team. There is a lot of guts and character in the team and that is the one thing you can’t teach.
“They will definitely go places if they keep their feet on the ground.”
Meyer admitted his team took their foot off the pedal after the break.
“We lost our way a bit in the second half because our first-phase play wasn’t good enough and we made mistakes that allowed England back into the game, but we played really great rugby in the first half,” the Bok coach said.
“In that period [in the first half] we showed glimpses of what we are capable of and where we want to go as a team. That is the type of rugby I am looking for the team to play. Injuries played a part in the second half, but I don’t want to make excuses. We made a few unnecessary mistakes from set phase, but credit to England for the way they played in the second half.”
Skipper Jean de Villiers said that the team had felt good when they led so comfortably at half-time but praised England for not giving up.
“They never gave up and we did not help the situation by giving them crucial points at crucial times,” he said.
“I think we gave them [England] some easy tries at one stage.
“We played some great rugby in the first half, but credit must go to England for coming back and never giving up.”
Article source: http://sport.iafrica.com/rugby/news/800705.html