South Africa’s inability to take several opportunities and a lack of discipline cost them victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday, said coach Rassie Erasmus following his side’s 12-11 defeat.
The 46-year-old added it was frustrating to sit and watch as his side dominated a large part of the match but due to sterling defence by their opponents and handling errors they failed to build a match-winning lead while England kept snapping at their heels.
Erasmus, missing fullback Willie le Roux and scrum-half Faf de Klerk who terrorised England in the 2-1 Test series win earlier this year, said there were still positives to be taken into next weekend’s Test with France in Paris.
“It was a frustrating match,” said the 46-year-old. “However, it is what it is what it is and England beat us.
“The only thing that counts is the one point. We did a lot well and two things we didn’t do well…finishing and our discipline.
“If you do not finish off your opportunities, you pay the price.”
Erasmus, who was part of the South Africa backroom team for both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, was especially frustrated his side lost the ball at two of their line-outs close to the England line in the first-half when they were dominating the game.
“It is frustrating especially as (England forward) Maro Itoje was off when we had the line outs,” he said.
“I don’t dispute going for touch, they were the right calls.
“However, losing the ball and then an overthrow is frustrating. There are not a lot of youngsters in the pack so we can’t blame it on inexperience.”
Erasmus, capped 36 times by South Africa, said world rankings don’t usually lie and the form had been borne out on Saturday.
– ‘No sarcasm at all’ –
“England’s world ranking is there to see (they are fourth) and I don’t know how much to read into that,” he said.
“They are above us (South Africa are fifth) so when you look at them we shouldn’t stand a chance.
“In the broader scheme of things clearly New Zealand and Ireland are number one and two respectively but others are catching them up.”
Erasmus, who suffered a big blow with the injury to star lock Eben Etzebeth early in the second-half, admitted the Springboks had missed experienced stars in fullback le Roux and scrum-half and world player of the year nominee de Klerk.
They were ruled out as the match fell outside the Test window and they are playing in the English Premiership.
Erasmus said Damian Willemse and Ivan van Zyl — who came in at fullback and scrum-half respectively — acquitted themselves well although their inexperience was exposed as the match wore on and the visitors failed to build a big lead.
“You can’t expect young players like them to come and control the game,” he said.
“It is a learning curve and they had people around them who could look after them and advise them.
“Yes we missed Faf and Willie but I don’t think they performed badly at all.”
Erasmus insisted he was not being sarcastic when he praised Owen Farrell’s tackle on Andre Esthuizen in the final move of the match which looked high but was ultimately judged legal.
“We should start tackling like that and execute it like that. Nothing upset me about the tackle we just have to latch on that if it is legal, it is effective.
“Tackle a guy like Andre and stop him in his tracks is some going. There is no sarcasm at all.”