‘Jantjies SA’s form flyhalf’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's matches involving South African teams.

On the Lions

'It was just a thoroughly gutsy, skillful performance by the Lions against a team that was desperate to win. The Waratahs needed to win to top their conference and to make the top six, so the Lions were up against a very motivated side. They showed everything that we've admired about them this season.

'For those who say South African teams can't hold onto the ball and beat Antipodean teams who play with ball in hand, here are some stats. The Lions beat 23 defenders to the Tahs' 16. They made 15 offloads, the Tahs just 10. They made 135 tackles and only missed 16, while the Tahs made 80 tackles and missed 23. They missed 25% of their tackles because the Lions were running at gaps. Ten turnovers won by the Lions to six from the Tahs. Eight handling errors as opposed to 13 from the Waratahs. And they made 523m runs to 366m by the Waratahs.

'So if you take all those stats together, you cannot possibly say that a South African side can't play ball-in-hand rugby and manage to beat last year's champions. They did it today and it was a fabulous performance.'

On Jaco Kriel

'Jaco Kriel was absolutely superb today. On at least three occasions he held a player up and created a turnover. He made two great breaks during the first half and got through some good work at the breakdown.

'It was a wonderful performance by an outstanding openside flanker. We are so fortunate in this country to have such great loose forwards. Remember he did go on the end-of-year tour, but he hasn't played a game for the Boks yet.'

On Elton Jantjies

'So many players play well around him because he puts them into gaps. The pass to Ruan Combrinck when he made the break down field was a beautifully delayed pass by Jantjies.

'He takes it to the line before he passes and gives momentum to his backline. We don't like skip passes but the pass to Combrinck [for the Lions' opening try] was a wonderful one. He plays little inside balls, he plays run-arounds and his defence has improved incredibly.

'He's justifiably right in the running for a World Cup spot. He really has been playing fantastic rugby and is arguably the form flyhalf in South Africa at the moment.'

On the refereeing

'South Africa can be very proud of our referees over this weekend. Jaco van Heerden had a very good game, he was very calm and made some excellent decisions. Marius van der Westhuizen reffed the Brumbies and Bulls game very well. Jaco Peyper and Craig Joubert are top referees and they showed that again today.

'Unlike what happened when our teams went overseas, their players cannot complain about the way they were refereed. Our refs were very fair and the South African rugby referees' association must be congratulated on the performance of our referees.'

On Damian de Allende

'He's a big guy but he holds the ball in two hands often and when he goes into contact he's striving to stay on his feet. So he gets tremendous forward momentum with ball in hand. He distributes when he has to, his defence probably needs a little bit of work, but he's a very physical, brilliant attacking player.'

On Siya Kolisi

'Last year Siya was in his second year of play. He made such a big impact in his first year, but he had a bit of an injury in the beginning of last year and he struggled a bit.

'But this year he's really come back with a bang. Especially his physicality in the tackle, taking the ball into contact and playing toward the ball. He's trying to play that openside flanker role which obviously Allister Coetzee and Heyneke Meyer have asked him to do.'

Five lessons from round 16 of Super Rugby

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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Nick Mallett