South Africa 39-41 Australia, Tri-Nations, Bloemfontein
Smit: No excuses
September 4, 2010
Rocky Elsom charges free of Schalk Burger © Getty Images
South Africa captain John Smit delivered a brutally honest assessment of the World Champions' current troubles following another demoralising defeat for the Springboks.
South Africa were beaten 39-41 by Australia in Bloemfontein - their fifth defeat of the 2010 Tri-Nations. Australia fullback Kurtley Beale scored the crucial last-minute kick to sink the Springboks after a thrilling encounter.
The Wallabies had raced to a 31-6 lead after just 25 minutes. And, though the Springboks fought back, Australia won it at the death as South Africa surrendered the Nelson Mandela Plate.
"Usually our defensive system works well, but it did not work tonight. We only have ourselves to blame," said Smit. "I don't feel good about our season. We've been disappointing in the Tri-Nations when one looks at the players and experience we have. We're below par and far off the pace. It will be no use giving a bunch of excuses - we're off our best and have work to do."
"Our defence was not good, especially early in the game, and they cut us too easily," said Smit. "In this game the margins are small. The try right at end of the first half helped and I thought we started the second half well."
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers echoed Smit's disappointment in the team's defensive display and questioned the side's commitment.
"If we execute our plans perfectly, it will be very difficult to score against us. We needed to show more character on defence, like we did in Soweto and last week at Loftus," he said.
"I think the turning point was the line-out where we got penalised. The ball did not travel five metres and we were expecting them to be penalised for that, but instead we got penalised and they scored.
"While we can look for answers, the fact is that we can't afford to play catch-up two weeks in a row."