What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Vodacom Super Rugby games involving the Sharks and Lions.
CHIEFS vs SHARKS
‘The Sharks have this big pack of forwards that they try to use all the time to get momentum and if they do get momentum they are quite good at offloading in dry conditions, they don’t do it so well in Durban, funnily enough.
‘I think Curwin Bosch going to flyhalf was a big success, especially in the first game they played [against the Waratahs] which they won. Against the Crusaders he controlled the play very very well. I have said for a while that Robert du Preez has been overplayed. He has had too much rugby, is not fresh and it was time for a rotation. He may have lacked a bit of confidence. When he came off the bench against the Crusaders, he had a kick charged down and passed it into Coenie Oosthuizen’s head. The guy is not comfortable anymore and Bosch deserves a run.
LIONS vs WARATAHS
‘We can’t not talk about the officiating in that second half. I think it was very difficult for Michael Hooper to come out and say it has been a tough game between two teams who were having a crack at each other. Quick frankly, there were a couple of calls that went the way of the Lions. That pass was dramatically forward, 2m forward and it ends up being a Lions try. It is not a close call. It is forward out of the hands.
‘There were situations where there was a breakdown and he was calling players off the ball. It became a very loose and difficult game at the end because the players weren’t sure which way the referee was going to blow the whistle.
‘What is very difficult is that a coach has got to go into a press conference and World Rugby state quite clearly that you cannot criticise the referee. Basically that has to be done through the proper channels. The coaches have a right to approach Sanzaar but it has to go through the proper channels because obviously after each game the losing coach is never happy.
‘There was a time in the game where Michael Hooper went through five tackles off a kickoff. You can’t defend like that if you want to be one of the teams at the top of the table. That was against the Waratahs, who are near the bottom of the table. If you play against the Crusaders like that, you are going to catch 50 points.
‘Warren Whiteley touched on it after the game. A few years ago there was a Bulls game where they kept going for the corner and eventually went for poles but the opposition the scored off the kick-off. Whiteley was trying to make sure, whether they got points or not, that the game finished five yards from the Waratahs line. It basically did. The Waratahs were not going to get a long-range try. Leading by one point, the Lions could not risk a penalty or drop-goal.’
The South African conference
‘The Sharks have played one extra game. That means the Bulls have a game in hand, as have the Jaguares, Lions and the Stormers. It is really jam packed and the last five fixtures are going to be absolutely crucial to see who can win the conference because that gets you the home quarter-final.
‘The Stormers have four home games and one away game. The Lions have got two away. The Jaguares have three away but remember they won four away games on the trot last year. The Bulls have to tour so it does not look good for them. But it is very hard to call. I would say the Jaguares, Lions and Stormers will be pushing to top the pool.’
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