South Africa's problems are 'fixable', insists Nienaber

South Africa's problems are 'fixable', insists Nienaber

The problems that led to South Africa's second-half collapse in Saturday's 22-17 defeat to the British and Irish Lions are "fixable", according to head coach Jacques Nienaber. 

Four penalties from Handre Pollard put the Springboks 12-3 ahead at half-time, but Warren Gatland's side roared back in the second period at the Cape Town Stadium. 


A Faf de Klerk try extended the world champions' lead after Luke Cowan-Dickie had crashed over, yet Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points with a couple of penalties, before Owen Farrell put the Lions five points up late on.

While Nienaber was pleased with his side's first-half display, he acknowledged the Lions were good value for the win based on their improved showing after the interval. 


Pollard missed both of his kicks in the second half – one penalty, one conversion – while the Lions, having missed a pair of penalties just before the break, were flawless with the boot following the restart to win a Test having trailed at half-time for the first time since 1989.

"The kicking game was won by us in the first half and we got the rewards, but the second half was a different story," Nienaber said, with South Africa's seven-game winning run – their best in Tests since 2014 – ended.


"They won that battle and it gave them territory, advantage in broken field play and we had to scramble, and we could not cope."

Despite their poor second-half performance, Nienaber is confident it will be just a case of minor tweaks ahead of the second Test next Saturday.

"We were nine points up, so things were working for us," he added. "We were playing in the right areas.

"Our half-time talk was to step up at the breakdown and then our discipline fell away. We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time. We did not make the step-up needed when required.

"We can certainly salvage this. A proper review is needed, but we can sort it out, no doubt. It worked in the first half and I believe what happened in the second half is fixable."

Captain Siya Kolisi was in agreement with his coach, highlighting the Springboks' failure to dominate the maul as a key reason behind the defeat. The Lions won 10 mauls to the Springboks' three.

"We did not get the maul going and we need to look at that," he said.

"They won the crucial balls in the air and the scraps that came from that. Well done to them. We are back at work tomorrow and will start fixing what we need to."

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