September 29, 2018 / 7:30 PM / 2 months ago

Rugby-Bok coach Erasmus rues missed opportunity to punish Australia

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, Sept 29 (Reuters) - South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus praised his side’s defensive effort but says the Springboks should have given Australia “a hiding” in their 23-12 Rugby Championship victory at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

The sides scored two tries each, with the Boks crossing early through wing Aphiwe Dyantyi and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, but after spurning a number of other opportunities, were then forced to defend for most of the second period.

Erasmus was left frustrated by his side’s inability to kill the game off sooner, but was able to celebrate back-to-back victories in the competition after South Africa’s shock 36-34 win in New Zealand a fortnight ago.

“I think tonight we created more chances than we did against New Zealand and if we had converted some of those the game would have gone very differently,” Erasmus told reporters.

“If we’d taken them we could have given (Australia) a hiding. In the second half we didn’t play well but we showed a lot of character once again.”

Erasmus has continued to experiment in the Rugby Championship as he builds towards next year’s World Cup in Japan and was pleased to have been able to make eight changes and still come away with the win.

“In the past couple of months when we made changes, we lost matches so to make eight changes and beat Australia is something to celebrate. Before we start to look at where we need to improve, we should probably enjoy the victory,” he said.

Aside from two first-half tries, the Boks kept Australia scoreless and have conceded only 38 second-half points in their five Rugby Championship matches this season — a vastly improved defensive effort from previous years.

“I think the guys are getting the hang of the defensive system but it’s not something that you can get right through talking about it or on the training ground. It’s something you have to make mistakes trying, and learn from those mistakes,” Erasmus said.

The Boks will host New Zealand in Pretoria next Saturday in their final Rugby Championship fixture this year. (Reporting By Nick Said, Editing by Neville Dalton)

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