Jacques Nienaber praises South Africa for thrilling win over New Zealand

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber
©Steve Haag

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber credited his players for the thrilling win over New Zealand in the final round of the Rugby Championship.

While New Zealand scored 20 unanswered points in the opening half, try from Damian de Allende along with four penalty effort from Handre Pollard kept the Springboks in the hunt as they managed 14 points in the opening half.

Even though Joride Barrett with three penalty kicks in the final 12 minutes put New Zealand front, Elton Jantjies kicked a drop goal and a penalty in the 78th and 80th minutes respectively to seal a 31-29 win for Nienaber's men.

While South Africa had two defeats with a two-point margin against Australia and New Zealand in the third and fifth rounds respectively, Nienaber is happy to cross the line in the sixth round and finish the tournament on a high.

“When the top three sides in the world play each other, you expect close margins,” said Nienaber.

“We were 20 seconds away from winning in that first game against Australia and two minutes away from victory against New Zealand last weekend.

“This time around, we got the crucial points in the last play of the match, that is how tight it was. There was a lot of noise from the outside and some justified critical comments amongst that.

“But the players never stopped working hard, going through the processes, doing the reviews, making new plans. So, I am pretty pleased for them.”

Despite the win, South Africa had to settle for the third place in the Rugby Championship with New Zealand and Australia finishing first and second respectively.