SABLES coach Peter de Villiers (pictured) says his side need to get better at finishing off opportunities that come their way after they blew a golden opportunity to register their first win in the ongoing 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers following a last gasp 45-33 loss to Kenya in Nairobi on Saturday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN NAIROBI, KENYA
Leading 33-36 with less than five minutes left on the clock, the Sables − who had rallied back from a 33-13 halftime deficit − conceded two late tries in the last two minutes of the contest which they desperately needed to win to breathe life into their campaign.
And De Villiers, who is yet to register his first win in two attempts since his appointment early this year, lamented missed try scoring chances, the concession of soft tries early in the game and most of all that the Sables’ failure to close out the game from a winning position.
“One guy who was out of the defensive system cost us three soft tries early in the game and that put us on the back foot, so we had to chase the game,” De Villiers told NewsDay Sport in Nairobi yesterday.
“After halftime, we successfully came back and thought we had it in the bag, but unfortunately, we had three bad misses in the line-out which cost us the game. So ultimately, we were the cause of us not putting this one in the bag.”
While admitting that the heartbreaking defeat had taken a toll on his players, the former Springboks head coach, whose chances of leading Zimbabwe to the 2019 Rugby World Cup are now very slim, says he is happy with how his project is shaping up despite the indifferent results.
“We have the right structures in place; the culture of the team has been set. We have the senior guys who have set the tone and the youngsters are now following, so for the next 100 years if they don’t throw it away we’ve got something to build on. Everybody who is going to step into this team will understand that’s it’s built on the Zimbabwe culture. I’m happy with where we are at the moment. Unlucky for us we couldn’t control the scoreboard but that didn’t take away the greatness and the character of the team.”
The veteran South African tactician also saw enough in their first Test defeat of the season to believe they can still win their next match against Tunisia, describing the contest set for Tunis on Saturday as “resurrection Sunday”.
“Resurrection Sunday came after Good Friday, so it’s that time now, we have to stand up, and we have to see how quickly we can overcome this kind of disappointment because everybody is down. They (the players) took it really hard so we have to see how quickly stand up because that is the difference between being a professional and being a bunch of amateurs.”
The Sables left for Tunisia last night via Dubai ahead of the must-win match on Saturday before their final two matches against Namibia and Uganda.