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Springboks in great escape as they call up the IRB Junior World Player of the Year

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sarugby.co.za     22 Jun 2014     Getty Images

“This was my best win yet with the team as these are the matches you coach for. We were down and almost out, but the team showed massive character and resolve to pull this one through,” Meyer said afterwards.

The Springboks were behind for 78 minutes of the match and only took the lead when Mornè Steyn converted a penalty try conceded by Wales that gave the Springboks the one point win.

“Wins like this stand out as this is where one’s coaching philosophy and team selection are put under massive pressure. We had to dig very deep against a very good team. It is always difficult playing a tough team in consecutive weeks and we needed some luck out there today. Credit to Wales, who played very well,” Meyer admitted.

The support from the crowd was massive, he said.

“No one left their seats, even when we were still ten points behind with six minutes to play and looked likely to lose. That support lifted the team in those last minutes of the match and I want to salute the crowd,” Meyer said.

According to the coach, the big difference between last weekend’s win in Durban and this one was the why they used their chances to score.

“In Durban we took every opportunity we had and scored. This weekend we did not and nearly paid the price. There is not much between the top sides in the world and I am very happy with the final result. It was an awesome test match,” he said.

Springbok captain, Victor Matfield, who became the most capped Springbok ever by taking the field in his 112th test match, blamed their poor exit play on the closeness of the result.

“Last week we could get out of our own half and apply pressure to Wales in their half. This time around we did not manage to do that and it gave them a lot of space to run at us.”

The character of the team shone through at the end, he felt.

“You need character to win the World Cup and we displayed some of that today. Our defence in last minutes to win the match was testimony of our will and mind set. We won this by coming back from behind. Last week we played well from the start, this time we had to come from behind. We were under massive pressure for most of the match, but came good when it counted.”

He praised the Welsh effort.

“With them leading, they had confidence and got stuck into us. We did not retaliate though, took the pressure well and responded at the right time.”

Meanwhile Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard, who was named IRB Junior Player of the Year on Friday, and experienced Test hooker Adriaan Strauss will join the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.

Pollard superbly led the South African Under-20s at the Junior World Championships in New Zealand. The Junior Boks twice beat the NZ U20s en route to the final, where they were edged 21-20 by England in Auckland on Friday.

Strauss has been a fixture in the Springbok squad since 2012 and missed out on the last three matches because of suspension. He is free to play again next weekend.

Seven players based in France and England have been released to their clubs and will not be considered for selection for next weekend’s final Test in the Castle Lager Incoming Series, against Scotland at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

They are Gurthrö Steenkamp (prop), Schalk Brits (hooker), Bakkies Botha (lock), Francois Louw (flank), Morné Steyn (flyhalf), Wynand Olivier (centre) and Bryan Habana (wing).

“I’ve always rated Handré very highly and with Morné returning to France and Johan Goosen struggling with a knee injury, we decided to bring him in,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Adriaan has been with us since June 2012 and has played in every Test in the last two seasons. He knows our structures well and will slot back in with no hassle.

“We will still travel to Port Elizabeth with a strong squad and will only consider calling up more replacements if necessitated by injury. The players in the squad who have not yet featured in one of our three matches this month have worked very hard.

“I’m a believer in earning opportunities and I feel that some of them deserve a chance to play for the Springboks against Scotland as they’ve now become accustomed to how we play and won’t let their country down.”

Jurie Roux, CEO of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), explained that the Test against Scotland falls outside of the international window prescribed by the IRB.