What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend’s Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.
Stormers vs Rebels
‘I thought the forwards played very well in that first half. I must say, Damian de Allende is returning to the form that he showed two or three years ago. It was a really excellent try and pass to JJ Engelbrecht to score the last try.
‘But, rather like the [Highlanders in the] Bulls game, the Rebels just don’t go away. They are a tough bunch of players who play for each other.
‘The credit goes to [coach] Dave Wessels. I know that after the Bulls game, John Mitchell was complaining about the way they slowed the game down. Your job as a coach is to get the best out of the players at your disposal and I think Dave Wessels has done that.’
Reds vs Lions
‘It is interesting. The Lions will look back at three games that they could have won: this one, the game against the Blues – which was critical – and then their away performance against the Jaguares, which was disappointing.
‘The Lions, as a side that played in the final last year, would have expected to win those three games. Had they done that, they would have been over the horizon [in the South African conference].’
Bulls vs Highlanders
‘It was a great game of rugby with some fantastic defence from the Highlanders and good positive play from the Bulls.
‘I thought, perhaps tactically, it would have helped the Bulls to take the three kicks [at goal] in the first half. The Highlanders have worked hard on their maul defence and once that didn’t work, I thought the Bulls should have taken the three points because the Highlanders were infringing and under a lot of pressure and you have to make them pay and build a scoreboard. If they had taken two or three of those opportunities, it might have made a difference in the end.
‘The Highlanders are a great side, you just have to think of how they came out in the second half and that wonderful try that they scored; they ran the whole length of the field. They took all their opportunities and didn’t stop giving the ball to [Lima] Sopoaga, who kicked them all over.
‘It’s heartbreaking. I really felt for the Bulls because to fight back in the 77th minute, get a try and convert it, it was a beautiful bit of play between [Jesse] Kriel and [Handré] Pollard, with behind-the-back passes from backline to forwards.
‘There was one bit of play I felt [referee] Glen Jackson got wrong. That was the second-last penalty that the Highlanders got. [Bulls prop] Lizo Gqoboka does a very, very good counter-ruck, takes the player, comes from behind and for some reason, Jackson felt he came in from the side. That is a very poor decision and it is a critical decision that, in the end, lost them the game.
‘Also, Sopoaga tackles the Bulls replacement hooker [Cobus Visagie] and lies on the wrong side of the ball, so he deprives the Bulls of a quick ball and saves a try and doesn’t give away a yellow card. That is absolutely a yellow card in that situation.
‘I think the most important thing we know about Handré is that he is a physical flyhalf who takes it to the line and he is a very good defender. He’s got a very good powerful kick and he kicks well for poles, so those are the basics. What he really has learned now is he is bossing the game better from 10. He is varying his kicking game, there was one magnificent relieving kick he put in today, 70m upfield, to turn the momentum in that second half.
‘He seems to be a guy that doesn’t crack under pressure. He’s got a stricter personality, good leadership and he is finally over his injury. So there are a lot of things going for him in this position. He played the World Cup in 2015, so clearly, he is a guy who can take the pressure and it is great to see him back at this level.’
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