Junior Springbok assistant coach, Bafana Nhleko – who is serving in the same capacity on the SA Under-19 team’s tour to Georgia – looked back at the positives from their 28-21 victory against the hosts on Monday, and singled out a few areas to work on ahead of their second and final tour match on Thursday.
The team overturned a halftime deficit of 18-14 to win their first match at the Shevardeni Rugby Stadium in the country’s capital, Tbilisi.
After reviewing the match on Tuesday morning, Nhleko said: “With such short preparation time and the testing playing conditions, the players did well to try to stick to the game plan. They adapted particularly well to the defensive breakdown interpretation, especially after conceding a few penalties in the first half.
“I also felt that we created opportunities on attack, but it is about being alert so that we can capitalise on them. We were also pleased with the defensive character the boys showed, and the fact that they limited the hosts to only three points in the second half,” he added.
Casting an eye on their next match-up on Thursday, Nhleko said: “Our leg drive in the tackle is a work on, as we lost some collisions, and we would also like to improve our ability to set early so that we can move the ball when the options are on.
“Our discipline is another area we need to clean up.”
Nhleko was satisfied that the coaches were achieving their objectives on tour and he said they would look to give a few other players a chance to make their mark in their second encounter.
“The guys are learning and growing,” he said.
“We are getting to know them and we can see what they are capable of in a game situation.
“Since the purpose of this tour is to assess the players, we will give the other guys a run on Thursday.
“They would have watched the first game, and they were part of the review, so hopefully they can apply those lessons.”
The coach said the players were also soaking up the experience off the field.
“I think they are enjoying the culture, and bonding off the field as well,” said Nhleko.
“The weather has been a challenge, but these players are lucky to have an opportunity to travel and see the world.
“I don’t think many of them would have chosen to travel to Georgia, so this is a great life experience, as they get to see a different country and way of life. We have really been well hosted by the Georgia Rugby Union and their community, so this is a great experience for us all.”
Junior Springbok coach, Chean Roux, will name his match-day squad for their next encounter on Wednesday.