Meyer: Be more clinical Boks!
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Coach Heyneke Meyer says South Africa must become more clinical finishers if they hope to beat New Zealand in Soweto next weekend.
The Springboks and the All Blacks square up at the 90 000-capacity Soccer City stadium where late tries by flanker Richie McCaw and fullback Israel Dagg saw the visitors snatch a 29-22 victory two years ago.
South Africa will enter the final-round Rugby Championship clash with their confidence boosted by a five-try 31-8 victory over Australia here at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Right wing Bryan Habana scored three tries and fullback Zane Kirchner and flanker Francois Louw one each as a fired-up Springbok pack set the platform for a convincing first success against the Wallabies in six attempts.
But Meyer was not getting carried away after the Springboks ended a dismal run in which a lucky draw away to Argentina was followed by losses in Australia and New Zealand.
"We have high standards and should have scored three more tries against the Wallabies," said the coach who transformed the Bulls into southern hemisphere provincial juggernauts and also worked with the Leicester Tigers.
"It is great to come home and win and we have not beaten Australia for some time, but we have to start taking those opportunities," he told a Loftus media conference.
"While we want to score tries again next week, we are aware of the challenge of playing the world champions. New Zealand are a very settled side and a number of players have been part of their defensive system for ages.
"They are the world champions and one of the reasons for that is their defence. It is going to be really difficult to create and score against them," stressed Meyer.
"We will need to be more patient with ball in hand and more tactically astute. If we get scoring chances, we will need to make them count. We are hoping that all South Africans get behind us."
There is cause for Springbok optimism as they could have beaten New Zealand in Dunedin this month instead of losing 21-11 had seven kicks at goals not been fluffed, and endless possession squandered through mindless field kicking.
That defeat led Meyer to drop long-time flyhalf Morné Steyn and 20-year-old replacement Johan Goosen recovered from a couple of early missed penalty attempts in his first Test start to regularly bring the backline into play.
Centre Jaco Taute also did well on debut after Francois Steyn withdrew with an ankle injury and flank Francois Louw from English club Bath was the pick of a Springbok pack that impressed in the set piece and loose exchanges.
Australia lost so many players to injury - centre Adam Ashley-Cooper was the most serious with concussion - that they ran out of replacements and played the last eight minutes a man short.
Fullback Berrick Barnes, centre Pat McCabe and prop Benn Robinson were other first half casualties and No 8 Radike Samo quit during the second half with wrist and shoulder problems.
"We are going to have to bring some players across from Australia which will be challenging because we have already delved so deep into our resources and there are a couple who will not have visas organised," said coach Robbie Deans.
Australia face Argentina at the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario eight hours after the Springboks and All Blacks come face to face in a potential Championship highlight.