What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Super Rugby quarter-finals at Ellis Park and Newlands.
Lions vs Sharks
'I’m sure there are thousands of furious Sharks supporters. They played a wonderful game, there were just a couple of things that happened that probably turned it against them.
'I thought Stephan Lewies’ yellow card was harsh and very tough on him. The referee had warned the loosehead prop about his scrummaging. But to give a yellow card, in the red zone admittedly, without a team warning, was harsh. To send a player off for streaking offside in that situation, as a first offence in the red zone in a quarter-final, was a tough call. In addition, the Lions scored two tries, so in that period there were 10 points scored against the Sharks.
'The second point was Lwazi Mvovo at fullback when he gets the ball with three minutes to go. He had all the time in the world to run it out and put a high up-and-under in the air. With a wall of Lions defenders in front of him on the halfway line, he tried to hold on to the ball. First of all, he passed the ball in contact, which was a big mistake as he conceded possession. Secondly, he got to his feet, but was standing in an offside position and immediately gave the penalty away and that is the penalty Ruan Combrinck kicked over. So Mvovo, in that moment, completely lost perspective of where they [the Sharks] were in the stakes of the game. His first mistake was not kicking it down there, passing in contact was his second mistake, and the third mistake was never getting back onside.
'So those two issues, the Lewies yellow card and Mvovo’s decision-making at the end, were difference between a win and a loss for the Sharks and I feel very sorry for them.
'The Lions were all over the Sharks in the first 10 minutes of the game. It’s the missed penalties by Elton Jantjies which really cost them and then they gave away a try completely against the run of play with that throw in by Andries Coetzee. Well done to the Sharks, though, they were anticipating it.
'Coetzee’s quick throw-in was exactly like Jantjies’ stupid 22 dropout last week that went straight into the hands of the Sharks winger, who scored. Here it was a quick throw that led to a try for the Sharks.
'The Lions started off well in the scrums. They managed to get two penalties from their own put-in. But the momentum shift in this game started when Elton missed the kick in front of the posts and another regulation penalty afterwards as well. Those misses affected his general play. he played with a lack of confidence. And because the Lions were playing behind the back of the first receiver to Elton, who was sitting deep, the Sharks defenders were putting pressure on him, forcing the Lions to make mistakes behind the advantage line.
'What the Lions needed desperately was calm captaincy, especially in the first half.'
Stormers vs Chiefs
'It was a really close contest and we were on the edge of our seats for the whole game, because it was finals rugby with a tight score that put the result in the balance right to the end, until Aaron Cruden spotted the space on the outside because of the Stormers’ press defence, which didn’t allow the final player to shift on the pass.
'It was great to see sport played like that and I thought the captains, Siya Kolisi and Cruden, summed it up fantastically after the match. They showed mutual respect and a great appreciation for how tough it was for them out there.
'Although I take no pleasure in getting my prediction right for this game, I thought the Stormers were so much better than a year ago when they conceded eight tries and over 60 points at the same stage against the Chiefs. It was just a massive step up in terms of intensity, focus and defence.
'We were sitting here in studio and everyone was impressed with the Stormers’ defence. It has really gone up a couple of notches compared to the way they played in the league phase. But they had to improve defensively because their discipline let them down. The three penalties which Damian McKenzie kicked over in the first half came from a scrum penalty, from tackling the player in the air and the other one from the Stephen Donald breakout.
'Credit must go to the Chiefs forwards. They were matched physically by the Stormers who tackled well, but they worked through the middle of the field with those short little passes to get over the gainline.
'There were very few opportunities for the Stormers and they did get one right at the end of the half with a great sidestep from Kolbe. But SP Marais has an antipathy to pass the ball before contact. He always tries to take the tackle and then pass. There was plenty of time for him to make that pass and run in support again, but he didn’t.
'And then there was the missed penalty by Marais at quite an important time of the game, which would have put them ahead. That would have given the Stormers a little bit of momentum going into the last 10 minutes. It’s the small things that made a big difference for the Stormers.
'Just to touch on Damian Willemse again. He played a massive game under tough circumstances. He made very few mistakes, despite being under a lot of pressure. He took some huge hits, but also tackled well. He got through this match with his reputation intact and that is a huge positive for the youngster.
'Kolisi said they let themselves down and they could have done certain things better. I think the Stormers have taken a big step up from last year. They are growing as a team and will be better for it next year. If they continue on this journey in the same way the Lions have done on their journey, the Stormers have something to look forward to.'
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