What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks’ 18-17 win over France in Paris.
‘These are just two technically poor teams. They made so many mistakes and handling errors, and both defences countered anything that the attack brought to bear.
‘But it was just an error-ridden second half from both teams. I just feel the Boks were desperate for the win and the team will be very happy that they came away with a one-point victory.
‘I don’t think the Springboks are in a position at the moment to get a big score. The confidence just isn’t there.
‘We’ve chatted before about how the team should play. How the forwards needed to be more direct and that Handré Pollard and Francois Venter would give the backline a little more aggression in ball carrying. Importantly, our pack was very direct, which helped our backs get across the advantage line.
‘It was good to see Siya Kolisi out there in the wider channels against France. He is a very good ball-carrier, and against France at home in June he was one of the star players. He has lovely soft hands, and with those skills you don’t want him to necessarily be a fetcher. Having Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen do that frees him up a lot. Siya is not someone who fetches as well as he counter-rucks.I don’t think there’s too much wrong with our pack.
‘They were defensively good against France and they are producing the ball. They just have to work on our attack and to get a little fluidity and understanding between the backline players. It would have been a much easier victory if Pollard hadn’t left 11 points out there.
‘If Pollard had knocked over those kicks, it would have pushed out the score. They weren’t that difficult and you’d expect that a flyhalf should knock at least 70% of his kicks over. There were three penalties of which at least two he should have successfully kicked over, if not all three.
‘The Boks got that one try through Eben Etzebeth, who took a great pass right at his ankles. I thought that was a wonderfully orchestrated conversation between the referee and the TMO. The time they spent to make sure that it wasn’t a forward pass was pretty critical. We were only a point ahead and could have gotten a penalty, which would have given us a four-point lead. But I think that was a deserved try after a great break by Malcolm Marx.
‘The one positive was our defence. There’s no team that doesn’t use quick line speed in the first four channels coming off the line. And against France, we saw a huge effort by our team to get off the line in those four positions, especially when it was a static run. It’s difficult to do if you’re going backwards and the opposition gets such forward momentum, as we showed when Anthony Belleau scored his try. But when you go forward and make a positive hit, then everyone else must go forward and make a positive hit.
‘Give credit to France’s little No 10. We speak a lot about not giving the opposition time to reset on defence when you’ve gotten over the advantage line. He gave the Boks no chance to reset. He took the ball flat on the advantage line to score that try.
‘But look at this French side. I think this must be one of the worst coached teams in the world. They are absolutely directionless, they haven’t got an exit strategy and just kick the ball out whenever we kicked it deep. Ball in hand, it’s always one-off runners, they run sideways, they offload when they shouldn’t. They are not a well-organised team. And just looking at the other games we saw on Saturday afternoon, Scotland are a well-organised team, as is England, and then Wales are probably better than France.
‘We didn’t use our bench much. Marx had 80 minutes, but perhaps 20 or 15 minutes for a guy like Bongi Mbonambi wouldn’t have done any harm. Ross Cronjé also played the whole game, so why is Rudy Paige there, if we’re not getting him on the field? My view is that if you play a game of high intensity and a guy fresh off the bench can give you 15 good minutes, then you let him play. But Allister Coetzee was desperate for a win and what happened was that he was just clutching to the idea if he takes the starters off the field, the team will lose confidence.
‘The way we utilised the bench today was because of the loss last week and the lack of confidence the coaching team has in making changes when we’re winning. Remember, we were leading 18-10 with 15 minutes to play, but it was 18-17 at the end of the game. They scored seven points at the death, not us. We didn’t accelerate and finish the game, we hung on to win.’