‘Errors cost Lions the game’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend's Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.

Lions vs Crusaders

'The statistics will tell you it was a fantastic game of rugby between two teams trying to hold on to the ball and exert pressure on attack. The tactical kicking was good with 20 kicks for the Crusaders and 19 for the Lions, but the accuracy of the Crusaders’ kicks was slightly better than the Lions', who were clearing it downfield as opposed to the visitors who kicked to the corners. There were also 12 offloads each, 29 defenders beaten by the Lions to 17 by the Crusaders, 106 passes from the Lions and 116 from the Crusaders. What’s more, is that the Lions had 62% possession and 62% territory.

'If anyone didn’t come out of this game feeling “Wow, that’s great entertainment” then I don’t know. We’ve been properly treated to a spectacle of rugby that will make you want to go back and watch it again. I was more disappointed after the Sharks-Crusaders game by the way in which the Crusaders dominated and the Sharks just defended. There wasn’t a single pass in the two tries the Sharks scored last week. You can’t say that for the Lions team. They created their four tries, tackled well and made mistakes. But rather go down guns blazing than allow the opposition to walk over you.

'This game was lost on Lions errors. There were two poor missed tackles by Howard Mnisi on Ryan Crotty and Nemani Nadolo, the turnover by Elton Jantjies at the beginning of the match and the intercept pass by Faf de Klerk. Those mistakes gifted tries to the Crusaders. Despite that, the Lions played some fabulous rugby and scored four wonderful tries.

'Akker van der Merwe coming on and dominating those last 20 minutes with a great run down the wing and a quick tap penalty before bowling over the tryline was something else. From an international point of view, Adriaan Strauss has got some good competition, with Van der Merwe, Malcolm Marx and Scarra Ntubeni all showing just how effective smaller, more explosive hookers can be.

'Referee Stuart Berry had an excellent game. It was a tough clash to officiate at scrum-time with two very competitive packs going at each other full-on and some intense contesting at the breakdown. He has had a few problems in the past in games like this, getting a bit flustered. But I must admit, I thought he handled this game really well.'

Kings vs Sunwolves

'Let’s be honest, it wasn’t a great game. It was a scrappy match with far too many errors from both teams. But while there are a lot of things to improve on, the Kings did really well under the circumstances. The first half was a little livelier than the second, I thought.

'The Kings don’t have a great squad, but they are a very courageous group and I’m really pleased they got their first win. Shane Gates is playing good rugby at the moment and he had another magnificent game today.'

Bulls vs Cheetahs

'This was a very error-ridden game. There were just too many handling errors, mistakes and poor decision-making. Both teams are trying to play attractive rugby, but it doesn’t appear as if the whole team is properly focused on what the ball-carrier is trying to do.

'It was an exciting game only because it was quite close, but the quality of it didn't compare to the Lions-Crusaders game. I’d say the Bulls and the Cheetahs are reasonably close as two teams and I don’t think they’ll be challenging for the playoff spots.

'Over the past 10 years, the Bulls had a dominant scrum and a very scrumhalf-directed game, with someone like Fourie du Preez. Now they don’t have a dominating pack, which has forced them to try establish a running game and it’s taking time.'

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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