Springboks believe they can hit back against Lions

“There are still two to go and I’m sure we can pull it back,” said scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.

Being 1-0 down in a three-Test series, the Springboks simply have to find a way to win the second Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday, says coach Jacques Nienaber, and he believes they are still capable of doing this.

“The series is definitely salvageable next weekend. We have to, there’s no other choice,” Nienaber said after their defeat in the opening match.

“The things that have been highlighted are definitely things we can sort out – our mauls, our kicking game and the aerial contest.

“We also need to step up at the breakdown and we had a big discussion about our discipline. It was sad that that was highlighted at half-time, and then it wasn’t great in the second half.”

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Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk echoed his coach’s determination that the Springboks had the capacity to win the second Test, also in Cape Town, and level the series.

“It’s not ideal losing the first Test but there are still two to go and I’m sure we can pull it back,” De Klerk said.

“There are a lot of things to get right, but a few of the guys had not played rugby for a bit.

“In the first half we played really well, we got a lot of balls back from our kicking game, we were getting good outcomes. But in the second half the Lions got the loose balls in the aerial contest.

“The Lions are a quality side and the other challenge was that the guys that came off the bench for them are as good if not better that the players they replaced… but we are a proud team and we will definitely make sure we rectify our mistakes.”

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Another area South Africa need to look at is their bench, which had surprisingly little impact, even though Nienaber denied they had adulterated the Springbok effort, saying he was “not disappointed in them”.

The starting front row of Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane and Bongi Mbonambi had an excellent first half, but they were replaced en masse at the start of the second half, which turned out to be a big mistake.

Nche did express some surprise that he had been taken off, particularly since he had been standing up very well to highly-rated tighthead Tadhg Furlong in the scrums.

“I didn’t think the ‘Bomb Squad’ would come on that early,” Nche said.

“We practise for a full game – that’s our fitness levels – but whatever the coaches feel is right is what we go with.”

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