‘Bulls substitutions were decisive’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's matches at Loftus Versfeld and Kings Park.


'The Bulls got two points from the match but they will reflect on a game that should have been won and not drawn.

'The Chiefs are a champion side who don’t give up and have the skill in attack to counter and score from anywhere. They also have the type of players who can score 14 points in a couple of minutes.

'The Bulls, at 31-15, were in control of the game. They were the dominant team and they were doing most things right. But the game was not yet won and the replacements made at the time were decisive. The changes seemed premeditated because those replaced had been very influential in the control of the Bulls performance.

'There is a feeling among a lot of coaches that you need to get fresh legs on with 20 minutes to go and in some instances it doesn’t work out. I have been in the same situation as a coach and there are days it works and others that go against you. In this instance it did not work because, in the context of the game and the flow, the replacements were not like for like.

'I thought Francois Hougaard was having a good game. Deon Stegmann, playing to the ball as a specialist fetcher, was doing well controlling the Chiefs' ball at the breakdown and winger Bjorn Basson was playing well. The Bulls lost Hougaard’s aggressiveness and business at scrumhalf and his game suffered because of his move to the wing. But the big difference was what the Bulls lost in Stegmann. When Stegmann is playing the balance of the loose trio is good. Replacing him with a ball-carrier doesn’t work.'


'Bismarck du Plessis did very well as captain to keep his team calm in a game that could easily have broken down and turned into open warfare. He is an aggressive player and very confrontational in his approach, so it was important he was disciplined, especially because he was the captain.

'It was an impressive leadership display from Bismarck because this was a bad-tempered game. The Waratahs came into this match wanting to fight fire with fire and wanting to match the physicality of the Sharks. But they took it to another level and it counted against them. There was too much off the ball and illegal play and they lost their focus.

'They also struggled to impose their attacking game on the Sharks because so much of their attack was played behind the gain line. The Waratahs had very little momentum and go-forward ball.

'It was not an attractive game to watch because of the ugliness of the niggle and also because night matches in Durban conditions at this time of the year seem to make it very difficult for handing.

'It was a very good win for the Sharks. Jake will be very pleased with the performance of his halfbacks, given he has lost Pat Lambie for the season and Cobus Reinach for the next six weeks.

'The Waratahs came into this match as one of the form teams of the competition and the Sharks won comprehensively.'

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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Nick Mallett