‘Bok defence applied pressure’

What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' win over France in Pretoria.

'That was one of the best performances of Allister Coetzee’s Bok tenure. Well done to him and his coaching staff. There was much more intensity in defence and we showed variety on attack.

'Brendan Venter has a strong personality, and quite clearly the defensive rigiour and how comfortable we were clearing our lines, came from him. We held France outright at the end. Admittedly this French side tried too many offloads, but they were put under pressure by our defence.

'I thought our defensive pressure when they had the ball in hand was very good and well executed. The guys were on their feet quickly, which gave us width on defence. Having made the tackle, our first and second defenders would get up and move back into position quickly.

'Then on attack, Franco Smith has had more time to work with the players to get a sort of width to our game, which allows Elton to play the same game as he does at the Lions. We had width from our forwards off No 9, we had a variety from Elton at 10, they moved the ball around well and our wings got decent ball possession. We scored four excellent tries and had three or four other opportunities, especially from Elton’s offence kicks that didn’t go to hand and that on another day might have done. The decision-making by Elton was outstanding.

'I just want to quickly make mention of Warren Whiteley. As a captain, he has an ability to give such enthusiasm to his team. It is obvious that he is a caring captain, who manages through his personality and his unselfish attitude towards the rest of his teammates.

'He creates a great team spirit, because the work-rate of this team was just totally different from last year’s team. It just looked disorganised and tired and lacked energy on defence and attack in 2016. This team looked as though they wanted to play for each other.

'If we look as last year compared with this year, the work-rate of the players are far better and the captaincy obviously generates that spirit.

'France played as well as they were allowed to by the Boks. We hardly saw Louis Picamoles on the drive, we hardly saw Kévin Gourdon when he was on the field. The Boks handled the wings Virimi Vakatawa and Yoann Houget pretty well. The scrumhalf Baptiste Serin had a good game for France when he came on, though.

'If there is a clear chance that a try will, in all probability, be scored and an act of foul play prevents it from being scored, then the referee must give a penalty try and a yellow card to the offender. You have to have a deterrent that is strong enough to stop defenders from playing the opposition without the ball. I feel a bit sorry for Brice Dulin, but Courtnall Skosan outpaced him and he then proceeded to impede him off the ball. By law, he is not allowed to do that and it was an excellent decision by the officials.

'All in all, there had been big step-ups from our players. It was a good squad performance by the 23 players against a slightly disorganised French side.

'The crowd at Loftus was a reflection of last year’s Bok performances, but we started this season well and after today we should get behind this young Bok team.'

Photo: Getty Images

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Nick Mallett