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MALLETT ON SUPERSPORT-header
Nick Mallett

‘Sharks playing much better rugby’


Sharks centre Paul Jordaan into try time Sharks centre Paul Jordaan into try time

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

Stormers vs Bulls

'A key factor today was that the Stormers' second-choice players were equally as good as their first-choice players when they came on. There was a big difference between the Bulls' first- and second-choice players.

'The Stormers were already dominant in the lineouts – managing to steal three or four of the Bulls' throws with Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit doing so well – and then were able to gain the ascendancy at the scrum. When the Bulls forwards get dominated, you end up getting a running driving maul of 20m [the Stormers' resulted in a try for Scarra Ntubeni], which would have reverberated around Loftus Versfeld.

Sharks vs Kings

'This was a very encouraging performance by the Sharks. They are playing much better rugby and have some very exciting youngsters. Some of the offloads were as good as any we saw from the New Zealand teams this weekend. The Sharks have started the season well and it's going to be a ding-dong battle between them and the Lions for top spot in the [Africa 2] pool.

'The Kings looked like a small team in terms of physicality, and the problem for them is that they will play the five New Zealand teams [and not any of the Australian teams].'

Sunwolves vs Lions

'The Sunwolves' problem is that the top four company teams [in the Top League] have decided not to release their players, including 10 or 12 internationals. But it was still a tough game for the Lions and a long way to travel, so it was a good start for them.'

Cheetahs vs Jaguares

'Not many people, including myself, gave the Cheetahs a big chance of winning this game because they were playing against a Jaguares side with 13 Test players in it and Argentina reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. It's a strong team.

'The Cheetahs scrum has improved tremendously. There will be question marks surrounding their own ball, because they collapsed a couple of times, but with "use it or lose it" they were allowed to play. You just have to go back to the Cheetahs' game against the Lions in the Currie Cup when Maks van Dyk gave away five or six penalties and had to be substituted. He worked very hard [against the Jaguares]. Torsten van Jaarsveld has done a fantastic job at hooker – a good scrummaging hooker really does help – and Charles Marais did well at loosehead.

'The discipline of the Jaguares is something that is really going to count against them unless they learn early on that this is a competition in which you have to stay within the laws of the game. The Cheetahs were unlucky not to play against 12 players because that lock [Tomás Lavanini, who late-tackled try-scorer William Small-Smith] was just as culpable as the scrumhalf [Martín Landajo] when he tried to kick the ball out of [Van Jaarsveld's] hands. Who's to say the Cheetahs wouldn't have scored another try and put the game out of sight with 31 points before half-time?'

Five Lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby matches

Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

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