What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks’ World Cup match against Japan.
‘Let’s talk about Japan first, this was an exceptional performance. I must say that my pre-match prediction was horribly wrong, I didn’t expect us to be as impotent as we were, and I certainly didn’t expect them to have the cutting edge they had.
‘It’s absolutely heart-breaking from South Africa’s point of view. When we got the yellow card, and they had 15 against 14, they turned down the penalty to go for the draw and went for the win, and scored with a magnificent try. There was some poor defence by South Africa, and some poor rugby, but you never expect a side seeded where we are to lose to a team that’s not ranked in the top 10.
‘We never got away from them, we never got more than seven points away, and whenever we scored we allowed them to come back into it. There was never a point where they gave up hope in this game, they were always in with a shout … Our defence was very passive and I just thought some of our big-match players did not defend well today … They got tremendous momentum through their backs, and we’ve got physical backs, but their backs showed more physicality, speed and aggression. There are reasons for this loss, but it’s just very disappointing.
‘We’re trying to grasp at positives, one positive is that we got two bonus points from this game, and if we beat Scotland, Samoa and the USA and we manage to get bonus points along the way, we can still finish top of our pool.
‘There was one crucial moment in this game for me, we were leading by seven points [with 15 minutes left to go], and we had a lineout five yards from their line. But for some unknown reason we opted for a front-of-the-lineout peel which they tackled easily into touch. We had already scored two very good maul tries, and it’s a bit of a strength of this South African side … Why on earth we called that move I don’t know.
‘I don’t remember a time when one of our backline players got the ball on the overlap, or the ball really going through the hands. Just to go back a month or two ago when we had a conversation in the studio. We said South Africa had the ability to beat anyone in the world on a given day, but if we play poorly, we can lose to a team that no one expects us to lose to. Argentina at home was one example, we didn’t expect to lose to them, and I can absolutely promise you that no one in world rugby expected us to lose this game.’
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images