Rugby Championship

Jean had full faith in Lambie

2014-10-05 17:00
Patrick Lambie (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - While Patrick Lambie's match-winning last-minute kick for a 27-25 victory over the All Blacks at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg had fans biting their nails, captain Jean de Villiers had little doubt he could land the 55-metre punt.

"I don't think there was ever any doubt, it was pretty easy, I just asked Pat is it in your range and he said definitely," De Villiers said after the thrilling encounter.

"We've got a saying in the team 'know your job, do your job' that is part of his job and it was easy for me to make the decision.

"To be able to do it under pressure and to do it so calmly is a sign of a great player and we have guys in the team that can perform under pressure and that was needed tonight and I am just very happy that he slotted it."

The All Blacks fought their way back from 24-13 down to take a one-point lead in the 71st minute and it looked like the visitors would once again deny South Africa a victory.

When the Boks won the penalty inside their half with two minutes to go Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was left wondering whether he was destined a victory over the old foes.

"I am really proud of the guys and it is at home that we have to pull these games through," Meyer said.

"I am really relieved, it could have gone either way. The All Blacks are a world-class side and came back there at the end."

It was the Boks' first victory over the New Zealanders in three years, also bringing their 22-match winning streak to an end.

While the Boks were superb in the first half, they seemed to fall into a slump in the second stanza which allowed the All Blacks back into the game.

"I thought it was an unbelievable Test, I thought our attacking was superb and in the second half we made a few unforced errors and were more on defence," Meyer said.

"You have to win this match with attack and defence through a all-round game and credit to both teams that want to play positive.

"It is a humbling experience to be part of such a Test and to be the coach of such a great team."

While Lambie showed nerves of steel at the death, it was the heroics of starting flyhalf Handre Pollard in the first 60 minutes that gave the Boks an edge over the All Blacks.

The 20-year-old Pollard showed maturity that belied his years as he scored two first-half tries and added nine more points with the boot for a total contribution of 19 points.

It was, however, eighthman Duane Vermeulen that personified the fighting spirit of this team as he turned in a Man-of-the-Match performance despite only being declared during the final warm-up before kick-off.

Throughout the week the Boks were sweating over Vermeulen's availability as he had been nursing a rib cartilage injury.

"He is an unbelievable warrior and he wasn't sure if he could play at the captain's run," Meyer said.

"We decided to wait till warm-up. I asked him for 80 minutes and I got that."

De Villiers said while it was a relief to finally get the monkey off their back of beating the world champions, it was equally important to remain grounded.

"It was important for us and we've said that we believe we are a good enough team to beat them and we showed it tonight [Saturday]," De Villiers said.

"It was a box we had not ticked off yet, and we did that tonight, the key now is to compose ourselves again take that in and access the second half because we didn't play well in the second half.

"We will take that on board for the end of year tour, which will be a really tough tour in the same conditions the world cup will be played in next year."


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