What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's matches at Free State Stadium and Loftus.
FREE STATE STADIUM
'The Cheetahs will look back on this game and think 'how on earth did we lose this?'. Coenie [Oosthuizen] was over the line and rolled it over. They were stopped short on numerous occasions.
'They lacked intensity from the outset, though, it was almost as if they were waiting to start playing. I didn't get a real feeling of hunger and desperation in having to win the game.
'They lacked variation in their attack, beacuse you need to have a pick-and-go strategy, not only play out wide, and you need to have a flyhalf who controls the game. I didn't think that [Johan] Goosen did that. He kept it fast and loose the whole game. A lot of the time they got forward momentum but they were spread across the field. They got back into those bad habits of getting isolated, losing possession and conceding tries.'
'Going up to Loftus, even if you've got your full contingent available to play, it's still a very tough ask to win it. The Bulls haven't lost at Loftus all season. This was a very weakened Stormers side, and I thought they played with a tremendous amount of bravery.
'I thought that the Bulls, in the last 60 minutes, got into the rhythm of their kicking game, making sure that they strangled the Stormers, played all the rugby in their half. The Bulls would've been a bit perturbed by that first 12 minutes, when the Stomers came out and played really well.
'But the reason it went off the boil was because the Stormers pack just couldn't stand up. They've used numerous locks this season. That was a very young front row and even though they had a good loose trio, it was the front five that couldn't maintain decent possession of the ball today. The Bulls played the right sort of rugby to win it.
'What I was really pleased about from the Bulls' point of view is that [Francois] Hougaard played a far more instinctive game today, because his pack gave him front-foot ball. He made some good decisions and gave some quick service to [Handré] Pollard, who also had a good game. He kicked beautifully tonight.
'And [Jan] Serfontein was outstanding and did very good work at the breakdown, becuase they are still lacking an out-and-out fetcher. If they're going to go further, that might be the area that's going to let them down.'
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images