Still work to do despite second Bok win
REACTION: South Africa coach Allister Coetzee praised the Springboks' 37-15 victory over France Saturday, but warned of challenges ahead after his side took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series.
The defeat of Les Bleus comes hot on the heels of the Boks' breakthrough 37-14 triumph over the French tourists in Pretoria last week, where they also scored four tries to win.
"I am very proud of the way the team has grown, this is a different feeling from nine months ago," said Coetzee, referring to humiliating results against New Zealand and Italy last season.
"This was an outstanding performance, but there is still a lot of work to do."
The results of this Test series have helped put to bed last year's disastrous season, which raised questions about Coetzee's future with the team, prompting him to say last week: "We have closed the chapter on 2016".
With eight changes, France were expected to provide much tougher opposition in Durban in their second outing.
"I am proud of our set piece and proud of the attack, but in particular the way we defended. The team plays for each other and that was shown in the defence tonight," Coetzee said.
Despite the Boks strong showing, Les Bleus' healthy possession will raise red flags in the South Africa camp ahead of the final encounter next week at Johannesburg's Ellis Park stadium.
"The French dominated the collisions in the opening minutes, but the guys did not panic and slowly we got the better of them," said Coetzee.
"Our planning has been spot-on for this series. Lots of things behind the scenes have changed and things are falling in place."
The South African performance was the strongest winning margin against a French side in Durban since 1967 when Les Bleus were drubbed 3-26.
"We have not achieved anything, but if we continue to develop and build we will be a force to be reckoned with. The game is also about confidence and that is growing," added Coetzee.
Springboks skipper and No.8 Warren Whiteley echoed Coetzee's cautious optimism, saying that "the character of the side was tested and we came through.
"I am excited because we have started a foundation of something that can become special."
South African supporters, furious at the national team losing eight of 12 Tests last year, will be delighted by the latest reversal of fortune.
French coach Guy Noves said: "We are dealing with a South African team in good shape.
"We have conceded 37 points twice and we need to work in the coming months to compete more regularly with this kind of rugby nation.
"I think the score is a little hard - we made mistakes that cost us 14 points.
"We improved in the second half, having lost a lot of possession in the rucks during the opening half.
"It was more balanced with a real improvement from the low level we had last week."
Photos: Wayne Seagreen