‘Coenie isn’t a tighthead prop’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend's Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.

Sharks vs Cheetahs

‘Referee Stuart Berry saw a different picture to me. Coenie Oosthuizen was under tremendous pressure at the scrum, going sideways and backwards. His knees were on the ground, the Cheetahs were going forward and the only reason they didn't score is because the Sharks collapsed the scrum. There was no reason to go back for another [third] penalty for the Cheetahs, it should have been a penalty try. Berry said there was no possibility of a penalty try because the Cheetahs weren’t going forward, but you cannot go forward if the opposition front row is lying on the ground.

'The dominance of the Cheetahs scrum was such that Sharks scrumhalf Michael Claassens took forever to put the ball in and then Berry decided to penalise the Cheetahs for pushing early and from there the Sharks scored. Berry’s handling of the scrums, in my view, was not right. I’m really confused with Oosthuizen at tighthead. He was clearly scrumming inwards in front of the referee and yet the Sharks got away without a penalty being given against them and they got a penalty from which they scored.

‘Coenie is a very good player with ball in hand, a good tackler and he turns ball over, but he is not a good tighthead prop and we’ve seen that for the last three seasons. I don’t know why the Sharks didn’t start Lourens Adriaanse, they may have a rotation policy. But it’s far better to get a good scrummager for the first half and the next 10 minutes after the break and get Coenie on for the last 30 minutes when everyone is tired.

‘If the Sharks do get to the quarter-finals and play the Lions, which looks like being the case, then that scrumming problem is going to raise its head again, unless Adriaanse plays tighthead.’

Bulls vs Sunwolves

‘It wasn’t a great game from either side. The Sunwolves held on to the ball well in the second half and deprived the Bulls of scoring opportunities. But the Sunwolves and the Kings are just not up to it in Super Rugby at the moment. We saw some good tries by the Bulls but their receiving of kick-offs has been abysmal and they didn't appear to get their maul going despite trying on a number of occasions. The Bulls’ maul is a thing of the past.

‘From the Bulls' point of view, they got the five points to stay in touch [with the Sharks]. Quite frankly, between the Bulls and the Sharks, who would we as objective observers want as the third South African team in the quarter-finals? The answer is the Sharks. They have the better opportunity to progress further in the tournament.’

Force vs Stormers

‘The Stormers toured well. They did exactly what they set out to do, which was to get two bonus-point wins from those two fixtures and win their conference. They come back to face the Kings at home and hopefully they can win that game to go into the quarter-finals with a bit of confidence.'

Lions vs Kings

‘It wasn’t a game the Lions will look back on with any pride – they threw away a number of tries and made lots of handling errors – but they got the job done to get five points and now they can consider what they have to do next week [away against the Jaguares] to finish top of the log.

‘The Kings have a tendency to fall off the pace in the last 20 minutes and they did so again here. Referee Jaco van Heerden was very lenient on the Kings' offside line in the first half, but he eventually picked up on the fact that they were offside a lot and trying to slow the game down by transgressing at the breakdown and they got two yellow cards.

'The Kings were courageous and brave, going past the forward runners to really put a lot of pressure on Elton Jantjies. But the Lions’ skill counted in the end. They scored eight tries, but could have scored another five or six. I think they were lucky to play the Kings today, because they were sloppy but I’m sure they will tighten it up for next weekend and the playoffs.

‘Rohan Janse van Rensburg had a fine game, but Franco Mostert is an unsung hero. His work rate is extraordinary and I don’t think he has missed a minute of any game in the competition this season. He is always taking the big hits, cleaning the rucks and taking the ball up for 80 minutes. He is very athletic but not a bulky player and to stay uninjured for as long as he has, given how difficult the competition is, is fantastic. He deserves that Man of the Match award.’

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Nick Mallett