MALLETT ON SUPERSPORT-header
Nick Mallett

‘SA players can do it’


Heinrich Brüssow overruns the Stormers defence Heinrich Brüssow overruns the Stormers defence

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's match at the Free State Stadium.

'I haven't enjoyed a game of rugby as much as this since the beginning of the season: two South African teams trying to keep the ball alive all the time; the pass before the contact, and in contact ... it was a cracking game. Both sides showed their intent to play rugby.

'I don't think anyone can be disappointed with that game. I know the Stormers, having lost the game, will go away disappointed, but they contributed to a great spectacle. What we saw was outstanding entertainment, and we are in the entertaiment business.

'These were the bottom two teams in the conference. It should have been atrocious rugby. But earlier we had the Sharks, the top team in the conference and they didn't show any of the skills that we saw today. They were playing the bottom team of the New Zealand conference and they had four tries scored against them. If they had shown any of the handling skills of these two sides, it might have been different.

'The game turned on that knock-back ball from [Heinrich] Brüssow which allowed Cornal Hendricks to score a length-of-the-field try. If the Stormers had scored then, it would have been 23-20, or 23-22, and it could have been a different result.

'This did credit to South African players, because they did really well. Both teams played with positive intent, they tried to play for territory. Both teams varied their game. The Cheetahs particularly were outstanding; they played off 9, off 10; they went wide, there was pick-and-go and there were great offloads; and that what put the defences in trouble. But the Cheetahs were much, much better in defence.

'Brüssow has made a massive difference to the quality of the breakdown ball the Cheetahs won, and also to the breakdown ball of the opposition because he had to be cleared out of every ruck. He was always there.

'This game showed that South African players can do it. It just requires coaches to be more positive about the way we want to play. Perhaps in a Test match, a game you have to win, you might tighten up, but in Super Rugby, you have to develop your skills and allow the players the opportunity to express themselves.'

Photo: Gallo Images

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