What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Vodacom Super Rugby matches involving the South African conference teams.
Sharks vs Hurricanes
‘It was just a bad tempered game. Both captains were scrumhalves and were talking a lot to each other during the game, abusing each other and setting a bad example for the rest of the team, who got up for it.
‘The difference between a South African side, specifically the Sharks, and a New Zealand team, is that they [the Sharks] show physicality with some skill, but not much game management; the Hurricanes have good game management, skill and physicality. So they’re always going to come out on top because they’ll score that extra try.
‘And as long as a team that plays against the Sharks matches them physically at the breakdown and in tackles, they’ll end up frustrated and start pushing and pulling, resulting in unsavoury incidents like we saw today. It was just a bad-tempered and unpleasant game.
‘Aphelele Fassi had a very good game and then had the misfortune to knock a ball on and immediately was substituted. That was probably the only mistake he made in the game. The timing was poor for the guy psychologically. They probably were going to give Rob du Preez 20 minutes, funnily enough the score was 20-17 at the point and they weren’t out of the game yet.
‘Bosch missed a couple of tackles, but I thought he was still controlling things quite nicely at No 10. So I don’t think that was a good substitution. And unfortunately the last 20 minutes were just an unpleasant affair. The Sharks were matched physically and when you do that they tend to lose. They lost to the Stormers, [Vodacom] Bulls, Jaguares and the now to the Hurricanes at home in that fashion.’
Blues vs Vodacom Bulls
‘This was a very brave performance by the Bulls. They kept on coming back against the Blues in very wet conditions. It was an even game and I thought the Bulls showed a lot of personality and character. Having lost disappointingly last week, I thought they wouldn’t make it against the Blues. I still think they’re not going to make it (the playoffs) but I’d be happy if they prove me wrong.’
Lions vs Stormers
‘Hats off to the Lions, they played Super Rugby in the second half aided and abetted by a couple of bad handling errors and mistake from the Stormers.
‘Then the Stormers’ injuries played a part and you have to be sympathetic to the fact that they lost both their locks and their hooker had to go play flank. It was messy and the Lions really got on top of the scrums in the second half and that led to lots of penalties and some tries.
‘There were really good skills on show from the Lions. When there were turnover opportunities we saw some great offloads in the tackle, good running lines and great finishing. The Lions also were up to a lot tricks. They had a two-man, three-man and 12-man lineout, tried a couple of times to throw in to Kwagga Smith at the front. We also saw that openside flank is still crucial. Kwagga had a fantastic game in terms of controlling the breakdown for the Lions and making it difficult for the Stormers.
‘The difference in defence was that the Lions made the ball slow at every single tackle situation. They got people, like Malcolm Marx, Kwagga, Marnus Schoeman and Vivent Tshituka, who get in over the ball. They’re obviously coached to not only make a tackle but to have a crack at the ball. By contrast, the Stormers didn’t appear to slow the ball down because the Lions got quick ball all the time. It was really disappointing defence from the Stormers.
‘Overall, it was an exciting game and the result has really opened up this conference now. I’m afraid it’s almost done and dusted that the Jaguares are the best team in the conference. They’ve got two home games coming up and it doesn’t look like they are going to lose again.
‘But there’s a lot to play for in second place. There’s been no consistency in the South African conference, so no one team is favouries to make it to the playoffs. We still have two great weekends ahead to see who can finish up in second place in the conference. The only problem is we’ve had the benefit of having a home playoff for the last two or three years and that won’t happen this year.’