Boks' defence hailed, Kiwis 2 wins from record

South Africa wing Francois Hougaard trying to get past Australia fly-half Quade Cooper during their Rugby Championship match in Pretoria, which the Springboks won 18-10. New Zealand have won the title but South Africa and Australia can both secure se
South Africa wing Francois Hougaard trying to get past Australia fly-half Quade Cooper during their Rugby Championship match in Pretoria, which the Springboks won 18-10. New Zealand have won the title but South Africa and Australia can both secure second place.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PRETORIA • South Africa coach Allister Coetzee praised his side's defending after Saturday's 18-10 win over Australia in their Rugby Championship clash at Loftus Versfeld, and said their "backs to the wall" victory had restored some self-belief.

The Springboks triumphed despite Australia having the majority of territory and possession. It was a performance characterised by scrambling defence and the steady boot of fly-half Morne Steyn, who kicked all of their points.

The hosts never really troubled the Wallabies' try line throughout the match and were thankful for their opponents' wastefulness inside the Springboks' 22.

"It was an important win, not only for our confidence, but also self-belief," Coetzee told reporters.

"For a team that had their backs to the wall, a win like this means a lot and is a definite confidence booster."

He praised new defence coach Chean Roux and said that, despite failing to score a try in Pretoria, their attack was improving.

"Our defence was outstanding and our set piece delivered the needed pressure on them when we needed it, which resulted in points for us at crucial times," he said.

"I have to give credit to defence coach Chean Roux as he worked very hard this week to get everyone on the same page."

The selection of Steyn at fly-half, his first Springboks start in two years, brought a stabilising factor to the backline, even though he lacked the dynamism of the man he replaced, Elton Jantjies.

It brought about a change in game plan as the hosts relied more heavily on their forward pack and the set piece.

"We wanted to play territory and get more set piece in their half, but our chase line was not the best," Coetzee added.

"Morne justified his inclusion. He showed he is still a Test match player. He remains proud to play for the Springboks and that showed."

Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, centre Jesse Kriel, wing Bryan Habana and scrum-half Rudy Paige all picked up injuries and will be assessed ahead of Saturday's final Championship match against New Zealand in Durban.

Title holders the All Blacks scored three late first-half tries to set up a 36-17 triumph over Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Victory moved New Zealand, who clinched the Southern Hemisphere crown in the previous round, closer to a world-record 18 consecutive victories.

The reigning world champions will achieve that feat if they defeat South Africa this week and then Australia in Auckland on Oct 22, in the final game of the three-match Bledisloe Cup series.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline 'Boks' defence hailed, Kiwis 2 wins from record'. Print Edition | Subscribe