What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Rugby Championship games in Auckland and Mendoza.
All Blacks vs Wallabies
‘It was a spectacular performance, very similar to the week before. The first half was tough. For 40 minutes the Australians were competitive. Then in the second half, it seemed as though it was just wave after wave of good decisions, accurate passing, intelligent running, good support play and good distribution of players.
‘This guy [Beauden Barrett], to think that people were saying [Richie] Mo’unga should have played. That was just to get him to up his game from a New Zealand perspective. He was absolutely sensational.
‘The All Blacks play the 1-3-3-1 distribution, where they leave a loose forward or hooker wide and there are a few forwards playing off 10. Their skills are just so good, we have got a hell of a lot to do [to catch up].
‘I do think that Australia played a style of rugby that suited New Zealand. They tried to play New Zealand rugby against New Zealand and they really got picked off, especially off turnovers. That is a lesson for us.
‘You have to look at the defence as well. I think [Kurtley] Beale is brilliant on attack, but is a revolving door on defence. They were going left and right of him, he was bouncing off tackles and you just can’t do that against New Zealand. You have to play the perfect plan to beat them, you have to hold onto more ball than they have because you cannot give them 50% possession. Your defence has to be absolutely rock solid.
‘From a South African perspective, when we look at those two games, the way we are playing now, which is picking a big, dominant physical pack, is the way to go. Having a flat flyhalf who takes it to the line, a scrumhalf who gets to the ruck quickly and we only distribute the ball wide when we get front-foot ball.’
Argentina vs Springboks
‘It was an error-ridden performance, in that first half especially. On attack, in the second half, we had a number of opportunities that we managed to mess up. It was a very disappointing game.
‘We have to give a lot of credit to Argentina. We speak about their physicality and they certainly showed that, on defence in particular. They showed a lot of skill on attack, some great passing and the try they scored just after half-time was the nail in the coffin.
‘The three tries in the first half were off our defensive errors and that really shouldn’t happen at this level. We played off nine a lot. It was just pods off nine, all the time, using our physicality. They varied the point of attack. There was naive defence from our midfielders. Those were basic defensive errors we were making and soft tries they scored. On attack, we made some serious mistakes but it’s on defence that we were really found wanting.
‘The Argentinians were pressing very hard and they have good experienced players. They press hard but the moment you throw a long pass they shift, so they don’t overcommit on the press. What we tend to do is press with our shoulders inward. [André] Esterhuizen and [Lukhanyo] Am pressed inwards, so if there is a pass that goes behind the back they have no chance of recovering. You have to press forward and out.
‘The Argentinians defended very well today and we allowed them to defend well, because we showed no variety in our attack. We tried to maintain our physicality. You have got to give them credit. They contested the ball a lot. They knocked a player off his feet and immediately the assistant tackler would contest.
‘We watched a game [earlier today] where Barrett is the guy who conducts the entire proceedings. He is making the calls. I didn’t get the impression that [Handré] Pollard was running the show. It looked like Faf [De Klerk] and the forwards were running the show. I think the flyhalf must run the show. He can call it so the forwards get the ball but it must be his call. [Nicolás] Sánchez was organising them better than Pollard was organising us.
‘You are asking so much of your forwards, playing this type of game. We should have said to Tendai and Malherbe that they have five to 10 minutes, so [Wilco] Louw and [Steven] Kitshoff are champing at the bit.
‘Going into next week, the problem is suddenly [Michael] Cheika and the Australian team are under tremendous pressure because they got 40 points at home and away [to the All Blacks]. There is a lot of desperation and now we are in the same situation. It looks like the All Blacks have won this competition after two weekends. You can’t see the All Blacks losing to Argentina, despite how well they played. This competition has already been won.’