Dick Muir disappointed after Boks let early lead slip

LONDON - South Africa assistant coach Dick Muir lamented his side's failure to hold on to a lead after the world champions were beaten for a third successive time on their European tour, but expressed confidence that they will redeem themselves against Italy on Saturday.

LONDON - South Africa assistant coach Dick Muir lamented his side's failure to hold on to a lead after the world champions were beaten for a third successive time on their European tour, but expressed confidence that they will redeem themselves against Italy on Saturday.

The stuttering Springboks arrived at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday on the back of defeats to Leicester Tigers and France, but they looked as if they were going to claim their first victory this month when they took an 18-6 lead into the interval against Sarries.

But the tourists imploded in the second half, conceding two early tries before seeing South African flyhalf Derick Hougaard drop a 75th-minute goal to win the game 24-23 for the English league leaders.

With Tests against Italy and Ireland still to come, South Africa have an opportunity to bounce back on this tour but Muir was disappointed his side, made up of second-string dirt-trackers, could not hold out at England's home of football.

"I thought we had a very good first half but they put a lot of pressure on us and the things we did so well in the first half, we didn't do in the second half," he said.

"There were a couple of decisions that went against us in the second half but they got the momentum.

"I certainly believe we can redeem ourselves in the next two Test matches though. We are taking things game by game, and the game in Italy (on Saturday) is going to be huge."

Two-try winger Jongi Nokwe was one of the few players to cover himself in glory on Tuesday night as he touched down in the 38th and 63rd minutes, the second a particularly well-worked score. Centre Juan de Jongh was the Springboks' other try scorer, in the 29th minute, but in general the team produced a mixed bag in front of 46281 fans.

With Johann du Plessis out of the tour because of a hand injury and both hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and prop Gurthro Steenkamp injured in the defeat to Leicester, head coach Peter de Villiers is down to the bare bones in that department. - Sapa-AFP

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