The Springboks know that they have to improve their work at the breakdown if they are to pose a threat in their three upcoming away matches.
Coach Heyneke Meyer's side managed to impose themselves physically on Argentina in their comfortable 27-6 Rugby Championship victory at Newlands on Saturday, but missed out on a bonus point despite having plenty of opportunities to score the vital fourth try.
Although Meyer was satisfied with his team's intensity on defence and their solid work in the set-pieces, he admitted that the way that Argentina were able to slow them down at the breakdown robbed the Boks of valuable momentum.
The Bok coach explained that his team had been left frustrated after working hard to get themselves in good position, only to hand possession over to the Pumas who exposed their isolated ball-carriers on the ground.
"You are only as good as your opposition so all credit to them, I thought we didn't get quick ball, we play for gainline dominance and they were right on the advantage line. They pressed hard in midfield and we didn't get any quick ball so I think that people do underestimate them, it is still Test match rugby and these guys play great rugby.
"I think the problem was that when we got in the right areas we put the ball through two or three phases and then lose the ball at the breakdown.
"The problem was that at the breakdown we didn't get the recycling that we wanted to and we didn't finish where we should have so I think we played the right gameplan but we need to finish better," he said.
Meyer said that his team will have to adjust their approach in this area, as they were exposed at the breakdown against England in June as well.
"We need to learn from this, in Super Rugby it is quicker because they don't compete as well at the breakdown, which is what happened against England as well.
"So these guys play the northern hemisphere style where the breakdown is a really tough fight so we need to adjust and we should have adjusted in the game but all credit to them it is going to be tough and we need to look at it," he said.
The Bok coach believes that his team will have to become more physical at the breakdown in order to secure the quick ball that their blunt approach relies on to be effective.
"We need to be more physical at the breakdown and we need to adjust because they were all over us at the breakdown and we probably didn't roll away and we didn't handle that on the day.
"It is no use talking afterwards and saying that we should have been more clinical, we need to make a huge step up in the breakdown.
"We need to vary our options better and we need to move the contact point better if we want to go forward. But we are a new coaching staff, we haven't been together for quite some time and we need to improve week by week, it is still a long competition and we need to get ourselves back up and go and win on Saturday because it is going to be a huge challenge there," he said.
Meyer was impressed with Argentina's intensity on defence and said that while he was satisfied with his team's solid performance he believes the Pumas will be extremely competitive going forward.
"They stuck to their guns and their defence was awesome, we really couldn't build phases so I think they are going to do well in the tournament, no excuses all credit to them.
"We need to give them respect and I think they are good enough to win a few games in this competition and they will go from strength to strength," he said.
While Meyer will be encouraged by the Boks' solid work in the set-pieces and accurate kicking game, the need to protect possession once it has been secured in opposition territory will be a key concern as he contemplates three consecutive away games.
The Pumas will surely look to target the breakdown in Mendoza next week, whilst David Pocock and Richie McCaw would have both watched the Newlands Test with interest so there is no doubt that the Boks will have to make some key adjustements in this area if they are to make an impact away from home in the Rugby Championship.
By Michael de Vries
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