Nick Mallett

‘Lions loss is worrying’

Rieko Ioane scored two tries Rieko Ioane scored two tries

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend's Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.


'The Bulls started with a very exciting win [against the Hurricanes] that was very encouraging and then a disappointing loss to the Lions.

'Today I felt there was an opportunity missed against the Reds. They are not a great side, the Reds, and the Bulls kicked off the game well but were just not able to finish them off. They looked like the Stormers when they played the Waratahs. That was a game that was there for the taking and the Stormers should have won it but lost it in the last movement of the game.

'I thought the Bulls would have retained some of the confidence they got in that first game. They started so well, going 14-3 up and they didn't score another point in the game. They were literally deprived of the ball throughout that second half.

'The long-range try that the Reds scored was really the turning point. Had Handré Pollard made the pass to his outside, the Bulls would probably have ended up winning the game. This was an opportunity lost from the Bulls' point of view.'

WATCH: Reds vs Bulls highlights


'The Stormers have had a better tour than last year, but still, three losses on tour is not ideal for them.

'I think there were times when the Stormers' ball handling was outstanding, they were well in this game at half-time when it was 19-15.

'[Damian] Willemse scored a great try by showing a great turn of pace, and I thought he played very well in this game. His defence was outstanding, he really did tackle well and we know about his attacking ability and sidestepping.

'Aaron Smith was absolutely outstanding. What he does so well is that he clears quickly, his decision-making is very good and what is more impressive is his support lines. He took a middle line and ended up getting a try at the end of the game, having started the movement with a very clairvoyant pass.'

WATCH: Highlanders vs Stormers highlights


'It was a good win, 50 points against a gutsy Sunwolves side. As [captain] Willie Britz said, they never give up and actually scored a couple of good tries at the end of the game.

'It got a bit loose in the last 20 minutes but there was a really good 60-minute period where the Sharks got momentum through their forwards and had a very good offloading game. I thought that [Makazole] Mapimpi played well and Curwin Bosch had a good game at fullback as well. He saw space in behind with that little chip at the end that did not bounce for him, instead it bounced for Sbu Nkosi who scored a lovely try.

'Everyone got a turn, the guys coming off the bench had an opportunity. There were six changes before this match, so the whole squad is probably going to be feeling good before their tour Down Under, which is a tough one. They have a month away so hopefully, the team spirit is high.

'We would be quibbling if we were worried about a few handling errors, I thought they were much better today.'

WATCH: Sharks vs Sunwolves highlights


'The turning point in this game was the charge-down when [Aphiwe] Dyantyi couldn't get his hand on it. The ball just had a fickle bounce. Just as he dived for it, the ball left the ground and he did not get downward pressure on it. So it was a good decision not to award the try. But that was a real pity for the Lions because it would have taken the game away from the Blues.

'Full credit to the Blues. They made 938m against 547 for the Lions. The Lions had to make 177 tackles and 86 for the Blues. The Lions missed 32 tackles against 12 for the Blues. The Blues made 208 passes to 110 for the Lions, so nearly twice as many, and they enjoyed 63% territory as opposed to 37%. Those are really dominant statistics in terms of metres made, forcing the opposition to tackle more and, in the end, it was the better team that won.

'In the last 20 minutes you expect altitude to play a part, but unfortunately for the Lions, the Blues finished stronger. I just had a feeling at the end of the game, when they won the turnover off [Malcolm] Marx, who went into the tackle with the ball in the wrong arm. They then played the whole way down the field and it was inevitable that they were going to score.

'This is worrying, because the Blues had lost their first two games and have come to our best franchise and beaten them at home. We have a lot of work to do and it is a pity about the Lions performance, because I did not think they would lose when they were ahead by 18 points at one stage.'

WATCH: Highlights of Lions vs Blues

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

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