What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend’s Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.
Lions vs Bulls
‘The Bulls held onto the ball really well for those first 10 to 15 minutes and scored two tries. Then finally the set pieces came into play and once the Lions managed to get scrum dominance, they were able to get penalties, kick for lineouts and get their maul going. Suddenly Malcolm Marx came into the game.
‘There were three occasions when the ref could have talked to the Bulls for yellow-card purposes later on. There were two infringements from the Bulls in the driving maul and then the Lions scored and the ref didn’t go back to the infringements that have been made.
‘Can I just congratulate Jesse Kriel on running with the ball in two hands. The reason why the player on his outside stayed on his wing was because Kriel held it in both hands, making it look as though he might pass. That wide player stayed with the winger and Kriel then had the pace to burn off the inside defender.
‘The Bulls’ set-piece wasn’t solid, so they had to play off broken-play ball and I thought Manie Libbok’s decision-making at flyhalf was excellent. The try he scored and the breaks he made from static ball were outstanding.’
Sharks vs Jaguares
‘The Sharks didn’t play with intensity in this game. They were just going through the motions, getting tries and patiently getting through the game without injuries.
‘The Jagaures controlled the ball better than the Sharks. They were more patient and had more ball in the 22, but just at the last moment they made a few knock-ons.
‘In a game like this, you need a good offensive kicking game and I didn’t see that from either team.
‘It was a clear yellow card for Dan du Preez, that was a very dangerous tackle. He has to use his arms to make a tackle around the legs and he didn’t. He also put his head in front of the knees of the player. This is the same player who had a neck injury last weekend and was fortunate to play in this game.
‘The reason why a yellow card is given is to protect the tackler in fact, because often it’s the tackler who gets concussed. If a knee hits Dan on the side of the head or in the back of the neck, there a possibility of a serious injury. That is why we’re trying to take the grass-cutter tackle out of the game.’
‘It’s the Crusaders against the Sharks and there’s no question that it’ll be a tough game for the Sharks. Although the Sharks have played well against New Zealand sides, the Crusaders have the tight five to dominate and that is why the Sharks will battle.
‘Halfback is a real problem for the Sharks. There is no real international scrumhalf at the moment. Robert du Preez is good on some days and average on others and the pack is adequate without being world class. They haven’t even got fetchers apart from Akker van der Merwe. They are a good South African team, but can they go away and beat a top New Zealand team? I think that is just a step too far.
‘The Jaguares are going to come with their A-team to Ellis Park. The Lions will have to up their defence against a side that holds onto the ball well. I do think the Lions can get through and play a home semi-final, but it is going to a tougher game than we appreciate. It’s the Argentina international team against the Lions.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images