The space is there, but the Springboks need to be more patient when utilising it, Mzwandile Stick, the backline coach, said on Tuesday ahead of the crucial second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park on Saturday.
South Africa managed to lose the first Test against Ireland despite playing against 14 men for an hour, with the extra space available to them being wasted by one-dimensional, frenetic efforts to just fling the ball wide as quickly as possible, thereby allowing the hardworking Irish defence to merely fan across and isolate the attackers out wide.
“The problem is not creating space, the space was there, the problem was how we managed it. Everyone got too excited, everyone wanted to be in that space and sometimes guys were even a bit selfish about it. We needed to do the hard work first and punch through the middle and then take the ball wide,” Stick said after training on Tuesday.
“As a team, we failed to manage the game well, we rushed things and we need to be more patient. Sometimes we played too much rugby in our own half and then the energy levels of the players ran out.”
While the forwards at least ensured the Springboks won the possession and territory stats against Ireland (57% in both cases), Stick acknowledged that the pack also needed to do more when it came to laying the sort of dominant platform that allows the backline to flourish.
“We knew Ireland would take us on physically and I must compliment them on doing their homework and they dominated the set-pieces. We need to focus on the collisions and make sure that we are dominant in them,” Stick said.
Lwazi Mvovo was the star player on the day in the Springbok backline and Stick said the Sharks wing’s well-taken try off a deft inside ball from Elton Jantjies was one of the few positives from the game.
“Lwazi looked dangerous when he had the ball and that try put a smile on my face because it was executed very well. Damian de Allende also ran a very good line and I’m not sure about those pundits who said it was obstruction. It’s one of our strike moves and my job is to give the guys the freedom to play and create options for them.
“The key is to try and create those moments, create an environment in which the players can express themselves and plans to complement their qualities,” Stick said.