Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, offered no excuses for the Springboks’ narrow 22-20 loss against Wales in difficult conditions in Washington DC on Saturday evening.
Wales scored their third and decisive try right at the end of the Test when reserve hooker, Ryan Elias, dotted down after a clearance kick by Robert du Preez was charged down.
Earlier in the match, the Springboks fought their way back from a halftime deficit of 14-3 to lead by 20-17 thanks to second half tries by both debutant wings, Makazole Mapimpi and Travis Ismaiel, and penalty goals by Elton Jantjies and Du Preez.
“We knew there would be risks involved by only coming over later in the week, but we’re not making any excuses – the Welsh showed more determination in the end to clinch the game,” said Erasmus.
“All their tries were scored as a result of kicking – a charged down kick and box kicks we failed to control – and also we committed some defensive errors. We had our chances to score, and overall I think it was the pressure, which they were able to put on us at the end, that won it for them.
“The one positive for me is that there were quite a few new players who got caps today and now know what it’s like to play against a quality team like the Welsh, but it’s still a Test that we lost, and that hurt.
“It’s never nice when you play you first Test and you lose, and we didn’t want that result, but we wanted to get all of the uncapped players on the field and start building towards the future. However, we still lost and that almost nullified the fact that we capped a lot of new players.”
Looking forward to the three-match Castle Lager Incoming Series against England, which starts next Saturday in Johannesburg, Erasmus said: “We will have to step up against England. We know the pressure will be on us to win, just as they would also be under pressure to be successful following their recent results.”
Pieter-Steph du Toit, who captained the Springboks in the US capital, said that despite the negative outcome, the squad will ultimately benefit from the match against Wales.
“We managed to work our way through a lot of detailed preparation so that it can also benefit us for the series against England,” said Du Toit.
“Going into the change room at 14-3 down, we realised that the first half was not good enough and that we needed to step up after the break.”
The Springboks will return to South Africa on Monday to start preparations for the first Test against England on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
Springboks 20 (3) – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty goals: Jantjies, Robert du Preez.
Wales 22 (14) – Tries: Tomos Williams, Hallam Amos, Ryan Elias. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (2). Penalty goal: Anscombe.