Springbok captain Siya Kolisi admitted that the age-old problem of the Springboks being unable to take their opportunities once again returned to haunt them as they went down 19-16 against Ireland in their end-of-year-tour match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night.
The Boks were on top of the hosts in the possession and territory stats, and enjoyed a number of 22m entries against them during the match, but as they have done on a number of occasions this season, they were unable to emerge with points, which cost them dearly in the end.
The Irish however took their chances on offer, scoring two quick tries at the start of the second half to establish a decent lead, before a late Johnny Sexton penalty gave them enough of a buffer to survive the late fightback from the visitors.
“We knew it was going to be tough and that we would get minimal opportunities, but when we did create opportunities we didn’t take them,” explained Kolisi after the game.
“When you play against a world class team like this, we gave them one or two chances and they scored tries. So congrats to them, they did well. They stopped our maul, they stopped our scrum and they came out firing like we thought they would.”
The Boks will lament not having a recognized kicker on the pitch, after flyhalf Damian Willemse missed his second shot at goal, a relatively easy kick from a slight angle, before fullback Cheslin Kolbe took over the kicking duties and missed two conversions, with one striking the uprights.
Kolisi however claimed that although that played a part in the loss it was not the sole reason for the defeat.
It is frustrating in a game like this because small margins make a big difference. But we can’t just blame the goal kickers because there were so many other opportunities we left out there and there is still so much we have to look at as a team,” said Kolisi.
“Irelamd played well like we knew they would. Some of their passes stuck, but our defence was good at times too, and they held their discipline and took their points when they needed to.
“They are an amazing team. The Irish people should really be proud of their team and should keep supporting and celebrating them.”
There were a number of questionable decisions in the match that went against the Boks as well, with suggestions that there were forward passes in the build up to both of their tries, while the scrum officiating was perplexing to say the least.
However Kolisi would not be drawn into blaming the ref, saying: “I can’t comment on that. I’ll never blame the ref.
“Both tries were checked and then there’s nothing else you can do. I thought he was fair and Ireland played very well.”