Boks on Tour
Muir: Worst Bok pack ever
London - English club champions Leicester Tigers stunned World Cup holders South Africa 22-17 at Welford Road on Friday.
Leicester, playing without six England internationals and nine first-choice players, rallied from an early 8-0 deficit to lead 16-11 by half-time. Scrumhalf Ben Youngs added two more penalties in a 17-point haul to make it 22-11, then limited the Springboks to just two penalties in the last 15 minutes of their European tour opener.
The hosts repulsed a sustained Springboks rally inside their 22 in the last minutes, finally forcing a knock-on by wing Odwa Ndungane to seal one of rugby's great upsets.
"I don't think I've ever seen (a South Africa pack) as bad as that, especially from a coaching perspective. We were given a bit of a lesson at the scrums," assistant coach Dick Muir said.
"Hats off to the Tigers. They were incredibly strong in that department so we've got to go back to the drawing board."
Muir, in charge of the Boks for their two mid-week games, admitted that his team will require a big step up in the weeks to come.
"You can't play this game without any possession," said Muir. "We were poor at the breakdown and poor at set pieces so we couldn't get the game going.
"We just move on. We came over here with an experiment and perhaps it didn't come off as planned.
Muir believes this defeat should spur the Tri-Nations and World Cup champs on to improved showings in the potentially imposing arenas of Toulouse, Udine and Croke Park.
The Test team will obviously look a very different selection, as none of the Test starting XV featured at Welford Road on Friday.
Muir admitted that "nobody likes losing".
"When you take a squad like this and have a short turnaround maybe you're not as well prepared as you might be.
"It will probably cause the guys to be a little bit more determined. When you're on the top of the pile there's a lot of sides who want to knock you off, so that's the territory we've created for ourselves."
Ndungane was one of eight players who were part of the champion Tri-Nations team, but they ran into a defense inspired by a record home crowd, a sellout 24 000 with the opening of a new stand.
Ruan Pienaar's first of four penalties was added to soon after when Earl Rose's kick into the left corner was pounced on by wing Jongi Nokwe for 8-0.
After a Youngs penalty in reply, wing Johne Murphy began a Leicester counter-attack in his half, and midfield prospect Manu Tuilagi fed wing Lucas Amorosino to finish off between the posts. Youngs's conversion put Leicester up 10-8, and in front for good.
With the home pack in charge against a Springboks Test front five, Youngs booted over two more shots at the posts, while Pienaar finished the entertaining half with a penalty.
Two more penalties earned by the Leicester scrum were converted by Youngs for 22-11.
Pienaar didn't have another penalty attempt until there were 15 minutes left, making it, then hitting the post with another shot soon after. The Boks flyhalf kicked another penalty to close the gap to five, but that was all Leicester was prepared to concede as the defense stepped up.
"Our scrum was immense and Geoff Parling was superb in the front row," Leicester coach Richard Cockerill said.
"Rugby can get quite scientific in its analysis these days. Sometimes you just need 15 blokes to come here and roll their sleeves up. The scientists can't quantify that. And that's what we did tonight."
After the Springboks play France next week, they return to England to meet Premiership leader Saracens, then face Italy and Ireland.