Boks take 'killer instinct' on the road
Argentina should not expect any favours from South Africa when the two teams meet in a Rugby Championship return match on Saturday.
Argentina should not be expecting any favours from South Africa when the two teams meet in a Rugby Championship return match on Saturday.
The Springboks scored a demoralising 73-13 win in their Round One encounter in Soweto last Saturday and coach Heyneke Meyer wants his players to be even more ruthless in Mendoza this coming Saturday.
While many pundits will suggest the Boks could be a touch complacent, given the record margin of last week's triumph, Meyer feels there is plenty to "learn' from the manner in which it was achieved.
And they are certainly not looking at it as an easy five points, but rather another important game that is a "must win" encounter.
The Bok coach said he will not make the mistake of looking past the Pumas and start thinking about the team's position in the Rugby Championship.
"One of the mistakes I made earlier in my career is that you look at other teams and you look at permutations, then you get caught up in that," Meyer told a media briefing in Buenos Aires, where the team is preparing ahead of Saturday's encounter in Mendoza.
"We said from the outset, let's play clinical, lets play our game and if the bonus point is available then we take it," the Bok mentor said.
"The one mistake we shouldn't do is compare other teams and look at what they are doing," he said, when asked if they felt they need a five-pointer in Mendoza to ensure the table-topping Boks stay ahead of New Zealand in the competition.
"That is when you lose focus and instead of winning a game you end up losing the game.
"My mindset is that there are five finals left and I don't care if we win every single final [match] with one point.
"If we win the next five games we win the championship.
"We are going to take it one game at a time. It is great for the media to look at what happens to other teams, but that is not how we play.
"We are going to focus on this game, keep our eyes on the ball and focus on Saturday. We want an improved performance away from home and hat is how we are going to look at it."
Meyer said with his team playing three consecutive games away from home - Argentina in Mendoza this week, Australia in Brisbane (where the Boks have never won before) on September 7 and New Zealand in Auckland a week later - they have to get momentum in the early stages of the competition.
The Bok coach also said he expected another clinical display from his team, following the impressive display in Soweto.
"What was good for me was that we got full marks for our line-outs, 15 out of 15," Meyer said, adding: "Our scrums were eight from eight.
"It wasn't a case of festival rugby, where we threw the ball around willy-nilly.
"The instructions were clear: 'Let us be clinical, let's drive well, let's tire them out and in the last 20 minutes the impact players can come on and then we can spread the ball [wide].
"We also realise that we have to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.
"I have learned in rugby, that game [in Soweto] is over and done, it is the next one that matters.
"The other standout feature, which showed against Samoa [in June] already, is that we are starting to get a killer instinct.
"The challenge for this team now is to show that killer instinct away from home. The task is to ensure we also play well away from home and this week we are focussing on that."
He felt the team is growing and are now benefitting from the fact that they won three consecutive Tests on the road on the year-end tour.
"Those wins [in November] we had to grind out - they were arm-wrestles and that is how it is away from home."
He said incorrect tactics resulted in the 16-all draw in Mendoza last year, a mistake they won't make this coming Saturday.
"We threw the ball around too much [in Mendoza last year] and attempted to play attractive rugby against them.
"That is why we were so clinical [this past] Saturday.
"It is important that we make a step up from the European tour last year and show that we can also be clinical here in Argentina.
"They keep asking us: 'Will there be a backlash?'
"Our mindset will be that we must be ruthless and step it up away from home."
Meyer also explained why the Boks were able to maintain their intensity, despite making a rash of changes just short of the hour mark.
Fourie du Preez, Coenie Oosthuizen and Bismarck du Plessis all took to the field as replacement in the 55th minute, while Flip van der Merwe, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Patrick Lambie joined them minutes later.
"One of the strengths of my previous teams was the strong bench," Meyer explained.
"Often when you bring on so many guys so early, you can lost continuity. We just got better and played at a higher tempo.
"What was great for me was how clinical we were when the impact players came on."
He said that some players have played a lot and they wanted to keep them fresh, while in some positions where the Boks don't have too much depth, those players they wanted to get off early and preserve them.
"The flipside of the coin is that many of these players, like Jan Serfontein, also need game time at this level.
"I am glad to see Patrick Lambie is doing so well at No.15, Willie [le Roux] started cramping ," Meyer said, adding: "It is nice to know you have a quality bench and don't have to take risks - any player can go on.
"It also gave us the opportunity to see Flip [van der Merwe] at the No.5 lock, where I would like to see him more and see him improve.
"Sometimes you put players on, get it wrong and you come in for criticism. This was one occasion where we got it right."