The Boks’ 10-year stranglehold on England came to an end at Twickenham on Saturday when they went down 37-21 to Eddie Jones’ side, which broke the 12-match unbeaten run that South Africa enjoyed over the home team since November 2006.
After a cagey opening quarter, England scored tries either side of halftime and ran up a 30-9 lead early in the second half to quell the Bok challenge.
Alberts started in the unusual position of openside flank, but played his normal confrontational game with mixed results. He put in a few of his renowned big hits on defence, and carried strongly on occasion, but his work-rate wasn’t at the standard required by a No 6, and he didn’t make the desired impact over 80 minutes in what was a disjointed loose trio alongside Pieter-Steph du Toit and Warren Whiteley.
Bok coach Allister Coetzee, though, felt that despite a few defensive errors, Alberts “had an outstanding game in general”.
The 32-year-old former Sharks stalwart, who plays for Stade Francais these days, believes that South Africa were let down by their handling and how they dealt with England’s tactical kicking game.
“England played really well. I think they prepared really well, and they’re a team that’s on form at the moment. Congratulations to them. We just have to be better next week. I think mostly it was execution. I think in the wet weather we lost more balls than they did – the weather is there for both teams. I just think they executed better than us,” Alberts, who earned his 42nd Test cap, said after the match.
“I think we had a good game plan. In the first half, we couldn’t enforce it because they were playing back the whole time and they were kicking good kicks. We were playing in the wrong areas of the field, and it’s always a territorial battle, especially in wet weather. So it’s more execution than game plan that gave that result in the end.”
The Boks left London on Sunday and were en route to Florence, where a passionate Italy will be waiting to inflict more pain on Coetzee’s side and get their pride back after they were humbled 68-10 by the All Blacks in Rome on Saturday.
While the Azzurri conceded 10 tries to the world champions, they would’ve targeted the Bok game as a big scalp in the November Test window, and they do possess a competitive pack led by inspirational No 8 Sergio Parisse.
Alberts, though, is confident that the South Africans can get going next Saturday. “I just think we have to find the balance in when we play, when we attack and when we play the kicking game – just a little bit more balance and better execution, and keeping the ball better,” he said.
“I think the ball retention is key for us at the moment. I don’t think the game plan… We cannot execute our game plan if we don’t have the ball, so we need to do that better, keep the ball. When I arrived back in the Bok squad, the training is going well and the belief is there. We are trying our best, and the guys want to perform, go out there and play good rugby.
“Unfortunately we are just not putting it over into points and into wins. The belief will always be there when you pull the Bok jersey over your head. You always have a chance and a big responsibility, and I think it’s still there. It is tough times, but we will keep on grinding every day in the coming weeks to get the result that we want.”
Original source: Boks had a good game plan, says Alberts