‘Boks played well in patches’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' 18-10 win over Australia in Pretoria.

'The whole squad is going to be so relieved with this win after the three away losses. We going into the game against New Zealand next week with a win is far better than going in with a narrow loss. We played well in patches and took our opportunities well. The Boks made 99 tackles and missed 21, so I think it was our individual skills at the breakdown and the ability to the turn the ball over that gave us this win. We had Francois Hougaard, De Jongh and Steven Kitshoff, all getting over the ball efficiently and Adriaan Strauss and Francois Louw making great steals.

'What we saw today was literally a desperate team that was going for the win.

'The territorial game didn’t work, because we ended up, at one point, with 64% territory to Australia and 36% to South Africa. We played a lot of rugby in our half. I remember eight to 10 occasions when Australia were attacking inside the 22 and a last-ditch turnover or a knock-on or a forward pass stifled those attacks.

'If you have Morné Steyn in the side, you presumably also want to have territorial dominance, which we didn’t have today. While he did kick the penalties and got a couple of drop goals, we spent 64% of this game in our own half and that’s pretty dangerous. If you are playing with a flyhalf who is not well known for his attacking abilities and still spend 64% in your half, it doesn’t give too many opportunities to score tries. Looking at the game, when did we ever look like scoring a try? Not once. We just took our penalties and drop goals, but we were never in a situation to score a try.

'But there was some good, determined scramble defence from South Africa to turn the ball over in the 22. If we give the same opportunities to the All Blacks next weekend, it’s going to be a very difficult afternoon. I’m very happy with the win. This team desperately needed it. It was what we expected from the team playing in Pretoria, but there are a lot of things we can still work on.

'In fact, a lot of the pleasure we got out of this game, came from our ability to stem the Australian attack. It was the great play by Juan de Jongh and Lionel Mapoe holding their backline players to effect turnovers, it was Strauss who played by far his best game of the season as captain, it was Louw going so well at the breakdown and Eben Etzebeth relentless tackling. It was on our defensive work that we got a lot of pleasure today.

'Strauss was always at the source of breakdowns and he was outstanding with ball in hand. There is nothing better than your captain performing well. The whole team is then prepared to listen to you and follow you.

'This team should be given another opportunity next weekend.'

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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Nick Mallett