Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Saturday said he was very pleased with a tough 13-6 win over Argentina on Saturday night at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria in conditions that captain Jean de Villiers described as “probably the worst I have ever played in”.
This victory pushed the Springboks to the top of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship table after the first round of play, with Australia and New Zealand playing to a draw in Sydney earlier in the day.
Meyer noted that a number of young players with limited test match experience played in pivotal positions and did very well in very testing conditions.
“We had a 20-year old (Handrè Pollard) running play at flyhalf and a 21-year old (Lood de Jager) calling the line-outs and they did very well. We showed a lot of character by keeping them out from our line. They had two great line-out options near our line and our guys kept them out. I am very happy with that.”
The Springboks scored an early try to set up a possible bonus point winning margin, but as thunder, hail and heavy rain set in, both teams struggled to get any flow in their play.
Meyer indicated that they wanted a more flowing game, but Argentina made it difficult.
“They are not a continuity team, they are a contesting team, so it not always easy to get a flow to your match. We played well for 30 minutes, but we did not get the points to justify that and affected us, as we had our mind set of attacking play.
“Their kicking game was better than ours tonight, but luckily Willie (le Roux) was excellent.”
The Springboks will be set on running their own race in this year’s competition, Meyer said.
“The result in Sydney had no impact on our frame of mind or style of play. We want to win all our matches, because then we will be good for winning the championships. Don’t read too much into this match. The new combinations worked well for us.
“The new guys showed the character I expected from them. A lot of the guys are 23 years and younger. I will be happy to keep on winning, even if it is by one point in every match. That is what rugby is all about.”
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said it was possible the worst conditions he has played in.
“Still, our guys came through nicely,” he said. “We could not play the brand we wanted to. We have five matches left to do it. Now we must regroup and do it in Salta. Our execution was poor tonight. We did not expect these conditions, so adapted as best we could. We were looking for five points, but the fact that we got four is still very pleasing.”
Willem Alberts will not travel with the squad to Argentina due to a hamstring strain.
As a result, Xerox Golden Lions captain Warren Whiteley has been drafted into the squad for the tour to Argentina. The Springboks depart to Buenos Aires on Sunday.