What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Vodacom Super Rugby matches involving the South African conference teams.
Brumbies vs Vodacom Bulls
‘This game summed up the difference between the Australasian teams and South African teams. We saw the Brumbies’ ability to score from first-phase attack. South African sides in general have all forgotten how to score from strike moves.
‘We’re just as good as anyone at scrums, lineouts and mauls and our defence, kicking game and physicality are good, but our strike moves are very, very poor. Our understanding of timing, when to pass and deception just hasn’t been coached well.
‘Losing Handré Pollard and Duane Vermeulen didn’t just affect the Bulls’ leadership ability negatively. A No 8 and a flyhalf basically control the game and to lose that calibre of experience there is tough. Now they are going to New Zealand and it’s very hard to see them beating two Kiwi sides without Pollard and Vermeulen. I think they’ve run their race.’
Stormers vs Highlanders
‘Somehow there’s been a change of mindset. The Stormers have freed themselves up a bit, passing the ball instead of setting up second-phase all the time and suddenly we saw Damian de Allende play his best game by miles this season, we saw players like Damian Willemse and Seabelo Senatla come into the game more and Dillyn Leyds was absolutely outstanding. And then of course there was the scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, who we’ve spoken off before, and he had another fantastic game.
‘This was the first game of the season that the Stormers’ backline played collectively well and all of them were Man of the Match contenders. And just a quick word of recognition to the Stormers’ youngsters who had to move to lock. Suddenly, Eben Etzebeth went, but by the end of the game Cobus Wiese had an excellent game and Kobus van Dyk was at lock too.
‘It was just a very good performance against a keen Highlanders side. They thoroughly deserved the win and if the Stormers carry on like that, they’ll be right up on there on the table.’
Sharks vs Lions
‘What was quite good about this game was just while there were quite a few handling errors, there was a lot of enterprise from both teams, particularly the Lions.
‘The Lions created a lot of opportunities, many more in a collective attacking sense than the Sharks did. The Sharks won, but we must remember two of their tries were intercepts and one was from a maul, which means there are still problems with creativity in their backline.
‘It was a good South African derby because both teams tried to throw the ball around, it wasn’t just an arm wrestle.
‘It looked like the Sharks took control of this match after the two tries, but the Lions managed to get some possession and they scored to get back in the game. There were a lot of good match-ups, but it was especially good to see Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sbu Nkosi having a full go at each other.
‘Makazole Mapimpi deserved his Man of the Match award on the basis of his defence alone. His decision on defence was very good. He understood when to tackle in and hit the man and the ball, and he made two try-saving tackles.
‘In the wing position, we’ve got heaps and heaps of talent. They’ll probably take three to the World Cup with four centres, including one who can cover wing. The three wingers I got penned down is Nkosi, Dyantyi and Cheslik Kolbe. But what about guys like Mapimpi, Leyds, Courtnall Skosan and Senatla, who are all guys who might be missing out? It’s really good to have a much competition on the wing.
Waratahs vs Jaguares
‘A month ago I said the Jaguares were probably the conference favourites going into the last six or seven games. They aren’t at all concerned about playing away, they proved that last year by winning four on the trot on the road and they’ve already won two out of three on this current tour and were very unlucky in the one they lost against the Chiefs because there was some refereeing controversy, which denied them a win.
‘They’ve got the Reds next week and if they can beat the Waratahs, they can beat the Reds and then finish the regular season with two home games. I think it is going to be very hard for them not to finish top of the log and that means our sides are going to be playing away in the quarter-finals, so now it’ll be all about points and not about just heading the conference.
‘Compliments to the Jaguares, they’ve just grown in this competition. When they started out they were battling, their discipline was poor, they got a lot of red cards, but they’ve just got better and better.’
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