A 'mistake' worked for Jake
Johannesburg - Jake White was never afraid to own up to mistakes he made when he was coaching the Springboks, and he was true to form when on Saturday night he reflected on a 37-23 win over the Lions that was made closer by the mass substitutions he made at quite an early stage of the second half.
According to the supersport.com website, indeed, it was a game where the use of substitutions gave rise to a lot of debate afterwards.
When Lions coach Johan Ackermann attended the post-match press conference, he was grilled on the Elton Jantjies/Marnitz Boshoff question, with the Lions’ best period of the game coinciding with when Jantjies had left the field and Boshoff had been moved up to flyhalf from fullback.
But White appeared to think it was his own substitutions that brought the Lions back into the game as they recovered from what at one stage had been a 30-9 scoreline to reduce the deficit to just seven points at the start of the last 10 minutes.
“I told the guys afterwards that I probably jumped the gun with the substitutions,” said White.
“We were 30 points to nine up and if as a coach you don’t have confidence to put guys in when you’re in that position on the scoreboard, when will you? I am not taking anything away from the players who came on, I just think we probably disrupted our rythmn and let them in, and once they smelt they could get a result, then we defended and defended.”
However, the mistake, if that was what it was, had a silver-lining for the Sharks in that they not only managed to hold on for the win, they also came back late in the game to score their fourth try and thus claim their second full house of five log points in the space of three matches.
“There were a lot of positives to come out of the substitutions. The fact that we had to work till the 80th minute proves how tough this competition is. I’ll take the flack for the fact that I thought putting the reserves on at that time and giving everyone a fresh run with the massive weeks coming up would be a good idea.
“As it turned out, we got a yellow card (Ryan Kankowski) soon after we’d made all the subsitutions, and that combined with the changes led to us taking the foot off the gas.”
White indicated that he wasn’t in total agreement with skipper Bismarck du Plessis’ decision to eschew a kick for goal that would have closed out the Lions’ chances of winning when they were still only seven points adrift, but he said the decision had proved the correct one.
“We would have kicked ourselves if we didn’t give ourselves a fair chance at scoring the fourth try,” said the coach.
“I would have liked to take the three and just killed the game. But that’s a captaincy call and you have to back the player. Bismarck will learn as a captain and will take confidence out of it. He will learn himself and if he gets confidence out of those sorts of decisions, the players start getting behind him and start believing. That bodes well for us going forward.”