‘Bok bench lifted tempo’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' victory over Ireland at Ellis Park.

'Sport is an amazing thing. Here we are talking afterwards and very happy that the Springboks won. But remember what we were saying after 55 minutes? We were saying this is the most depressing game we’ve watched and couldn’t believe how many mistakes the guys made in the first half.

'That first half was dreadful and the next 15 minutes after the break. We said why aren’t we scoring when we need to get into the game immediately? Then Warren Whiteley, Ruan Combrinck, Franco Mostert and Julian Redelinghuys came on and there was a noticeable change in terms of tempo to the Bok game. Suddenly Faf de Klerk looked at ease on the ball, Elton Jantjies looked more confident and, more importantly, suddenly Willie le Roux found more space. That was the reason we won.

'Let's not say it was a great second half either because after 60 minutes we were down 26-10. So, it was a great last 20 minutes and we can perhaps thank the altitude. There’s no doubt the Irish fell off a few tackles at the end of that game, which didn’t happen at Newlands or during the first hour of this game. Ireland were pretty much out on their feet at the end of the game.

'What this victory shows is that form does count. Whiteley has been the form No 8 in Super Rugby and Combrinck the form wing and as soon as they came on, we had a bit of confidence in our game and it made a massive difference to this team. Combrinck was outstanding. The fact that he only played 40 minutes and got Man of the Match shows what an impact he had on turning the Springbok performance around.

'My view is quite simple. There are a number of very good Lions players. Mostert came on and his latch-and-drive on Pieter-Steph du Toit helped the latter drive through two players for a try. I think Jaco Kriel should be given the same opportunity and quite frankly I think Malcolm Marx is also someone who should come into the mix. The Lions are playing with confidence, a lot of physicality and a lot of skill.

'If you look at Whiteley’s try, it came because he didn’t run at a defender, he ran inside two defenders and then outside a third. He beat them all with pace. Du Toit and Damian de Allende’s tries came after they physically dominated in a one-on-one situation. But Whiteley looked for space and if you do that consistently, you create more opportunities than if you just run at your opponents.

'Before the series started, I thought Kriel deserved a start in one of the Tests, and I know that after the loss in the first game Allister showed a lot of loyalty to the guys who started at Newlands, including Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw. Now listen, these two are very good Springboks, but don’t forget they are at the end of a long northern hemisphere season. They started there immediately after the World Cup, which came after a long South African season. Now I know Ireland’s players are also coming off the same European schedule but if you look at Bath, they have not performed well this season. In fact, they’ve done poorly, so Louw’s been under pressure a little bit. Vermeulen got knocked out of the European Champions Cup with Toulon and they play very different rugby there, slow rugby. So I still think Kriel and Whiteley deserve to start the last Test, along with Siya Kolisi. If they combine with the Lions No 9 and 10, we’ll have more athleticism.'

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Nick Mallett