Springboks couldn't help but laugh at one post-match press-conference question
Despite their 13-8 loss to Ireland, the South African camp still believed they could retain the Webb Ellis cup.
The Springboks were left to rue a string of missed penalties from Manie Libbok and Faf de Clerk as Ireland edged a titanic tussle, at the Stade de France.
The message from the South African camp in their post-match press-conference being, however, that while the battle was lost, the war can still be won.
There was very little margin for error in this Pool B showdown that was absolutely gripping in its physicality and intensity.
Ireland got off to a shaky start, characterised by some early line-out malfunctions but they hung in there, mainly thanks to some trojan work at the breakdown from the likes of Andrew Porter and James Ryan.
Mack Hansen's try just before half-time was needed and while it gave the Irish the ascendency at the break, there was no let-up in the second half. South Africa continued to steam forward, showing that as well as being a physical team, they also have some tremendous ball-skills and link-up play.
Their renowned 'bomb squad' entered the fray early in the second half, but they couldn't make the pressure tell on the score-board, as the missed kicks eventually cost them.
Speaking in a press conference after the loss, South African captain Siya Kolisi and coach Jacques Nienaber were far from beaten men, however.
They could only laugh when asked by a local journalist if they could still win the World Cup.
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"Yeah, we can still," replied Nienaber initially, incredulously.
South Africa have form, it must be remembered, for recovering mid-tournament. They did it in 2019 after their 23-13 defeat to the All Blacks in the group stage.
"In 2019, did you think we could win the World Cup when we lost to New Zealand?" asked Nienaber.
“Obviously, we are in this competition to win it, everybody is in this competition to win it.
“Teams that lose a game in the pool stages must work hard to get out of the pool, so definitely we can still win it.
“I mean, we played against the number one team in the world, and we lost by five points.
“We had an opportunity in the 79th minute to get a result, but we didn’t.
“So hats off to Ireland, they were better than us on the night, and that is the bottom line.
“But that is the number one team in the world, and we are the number two team in the world, and the margin is very small.
"So we will have to work harder at the stuff we were not good at, and if we can fix that and have a little bit of luck, then we can win the World Cup yeah."
UPDATE: As we know now, the Springboks marched to the final, beating France, England and New Zealand on their way to a fourth ever World Cup win. Kolisi and Nienaber were laughing then, and they are definitely laughing now.
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