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Mzwandile Stick on SA A loss to Bristol: Sometimes we were trying to play like it’s a trial game

Mzwandile Stick on SA A loss to Bristol: Sometimes we were trying to play like it’s a trial game

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Cape Town – The chase for Springbok spots contributed to a disjointed performance from South Africa A in their 26-18 loss to Bristol, says coach Mzwandile Stick, who felt that some players were treating the match like a “trial” for Test places.

Having gone down 28-14 to Munster in Cork last week after just a few days of preparation, Stick was hoping that his team would produce a more cohesive effort on Thursday night against a Bristol Bears outfit that were missing some big names like AJ MacGinty, Semi Radradra and Steven Luatua.

But instead, the visitors kicked a lot of possession away, and when they did find themselves on attack in the opposition’s 22, they knocked the ball on, missed their lineouts or conceded a turnover.

“I don’t know why we panicked later on in the game, where we tried to force things, because I felt like whenever we played the ball in front of our forwards, we were always getting rewarded because we’ve got big, physical ball-carriers there,” Stick said.

“Then we moved away from that… I don’t know why.

“The honest truth is that I’m disappointed with the fact that the potential we’ve got in our changing room. The players that we’ve got in our group… We’ve got good players – we’ve got brilliant, brilliant, experienced players also in our squad.

“So, I don’t think maybe the guys didn’t really realise that we didn’t really play according to the standard that we’ve got – the material that we’ve got in our dining room.

“It’s just that I don’t know, sometimes maybe the players were trying to play like it’s a trial game, where everyone wants to do their own thing. I felt like the moment we started playing together as a team and we stuck to our plan, a few beautiful things were happening in the game.

“Even the try that we scored with the turnover… I felt like once we played in front of our forwards and we played direct, that is when we started dominating in the game.

“But when we decided to spread the ball wide and then the ball retention at the breakdowns was also a bit poor, where we started losing the ball. And the wider channels, that is something that let us down.”

Captain Thomas du Toit felt that the forwards had won enough ball for the backs to attack with, but that their execution had let them down at Ashton Gate Stadium.

“We really did get a lot of unforced errors, individual mistakes that we made, and that really cost us this game. So, obviously there are a lot of things to look at, and we’ll take the positives from it,” the tighthead prop said.

“The set-piece functioned well. I think we did get some good reward out of it, but you know it’s a balance between having individual performance and playing together as a team. And when you make individual mistakes, then the team doesn’t function. So yeah, we’ll obviously look back at it.

“I think they definitely surprised us a little bit with the amount of ball-carries. We really expected them to run a lot more, especially out of the 22, and they went to a long kicking game and kicked out and stuff like that.”

Stick said that flyhalf Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who left the field with an injury in the second half, would be sent for a scan, but that his issue was not thought to be too serious.

The Bok management will now decide which of the SA A players will join up with the Test squad in London ahead of next weekend’s clash against England.

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Stick, though, hopes that there will be more preparation time for SA A tour games in future.

“I would have probably loved to have maybe a week or two of a camp with the guys, where we can just implement all the stuff that we want in our plan,” he said.

“When we came here, two training sessions and then went to play against Munster, and then the same goes also this week. We probably had about three training sessions.

“So, in future, one thing that I will love will be to have more time with the guys. We’ve got premium players there. I think if we were aligned and played as a team, we could have maybe had better results.”

Points-Scorers

Bristol Bears 26 – Tries: Gabriel Ibitoye, Yann Thomas. Conversions: Callum Sheedy (2). Penalties: Sheedy (4).

South Africa A 18 – Tries: Ntuthuko Mchunu, Sikhumbuzo Notshe. Conversion: Johan Goosen (1). Penalties: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (2).

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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