What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the SA franchises' performances this past weekend.
ON THE LIONS
'There was great variety in attack and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff again played very well. He was calm and his option-taking was good. Boshoff has kicked several drop goals in the first month of the season and against the Blues he kicked a couple more. Drop goals, like the ones Boshoff kicks, are near impossible to defend.
'The Lions scrum was very good in the first half and their set piece was dominant and accurate. They also showed enterprise and were prepared to risk, especially just before half-time when they tapped and ran from a regulation penalty and turned the probable three points into a well-taken seven points.
'They led 20-0 at one stage and you did not think the Blues would get back into the game. Butt New Zealand teams believe they can beat our teams in the final 10 minutes and they scored five tries in the last 20 minutes. Fortunately the Lions also scored in that period, but it was touch and go.
'The Lions, on the first 60 minutes, will know it should never have been that that close in the end. Still, few would have predicted a Lions win [given the last time they beat the Blues was in 2006] and it was a fantastic result for the home team. They now have three wins from five and this is another of those Lions campaign starts few would have anticipated or predicted.'
ON THE SHARKS
'The Reds in the first half were trying to play a territorial game because that is how the Sharks play it. But they did not succeed. They did not take their opportunities whereas the Sharks took every penalty available and scored a fantastic first-half try. The knock-on from Reds centre Mike Harris, when all he had to do was catch the ball and fall over the tryline on the stroke of half-time, was very costly. Instead of trailing 25-13 at half-time they trailed 25-6.
'The Reds played better in the second half but the conditions [humid which made the ball difficult to handle] meant a lot of ball was spilled. The Sharks had too much of a cushion at half-time and credit to the side’s conditioning and ability to close out a game that they finished strongly and scored a second try in the final minute.
'The Sharks were deserved winners and they have done particularly well to get four wins from four starts. They played the percentages well and were comfortable to back themselves to be dominant defensively and to turn playing without the ball into an advantage in conditions that make it difficult for the ball carrier.
'The Sharks have four from four and two bonus points from a possible four. They are without doubt the best of the South African teams in the competition and I believe they will add an expansive and attacking dimension to their game when they play away from home in conditions that make attacking rugby that much easier.'
ON THE CHEETAHS
'This was one of their worst performances in some time. They have been poor all season but against the Hurricanes they were shocking. There was no defence, no kicking game and they played too laterally, and when you play like that against a New Zealand side with a good back three and an attacking mindset you will get punished.
'The Cheetahs last season surprised everyone with their discipline, defence and intensity, but this season has been the complete opposite and they are having a horror tour.'
ON THE STORMERS
'To concede 14 points in the last three minutes when a five-pointer would have won them the game was the most disappointing aspect of their performance.
'They showed fighting spirit to get back into the game at 24-20 after trailing 24-6 and then they gave it away in those last three minutes. The way they lost it is what will really hurt them as a team that still has two tour matches.'
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