‘Cracking weekend for SA rugby’

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

Lions vs Stormers

'The people who showed up at Ellis Park to watch this game were royally entertained. The best thing in sport is to see a game going right down to the final few moments and everyone intensely involved until the end. There was no slowing down of the pace or intensity of this match. The defence was as physical right until the end as it had been from the first moment, and it didn’t discourage either team from trying to hold on to the ball.

'This was such a good advertisement for South African rugby. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a local derby as much as I did today. I was as excited watching this as I am watching any New Zealand derby.

'Normally we’re watching box kicks and jumping, reset scrums, mauls, kicking for territory … all because of that stupid phrase “you’ve got to earn the right to go wide”. It’s absolute garbage. If there’s space out wide, pass it wide. If you see space in behind the defence, chip the ball over the top. And today we’ve seen these two teams do that. Let’s not forget the Bulls and the Cheetahs did it as well. This was a cracking weekend for South African rugby.

'The innovation and quick thinking was exceptional from Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk. The Stormers' try was sensational. We keep saying why don’t you step past a defender instead of trying to run over him. Here we saw Siya Kolisi putting an opponent on his backside. There are other loose forwards like Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Jaco Kriel who can do the exact same thing. Finally we see players, under the guidance of younger coaches, doing what we’ve been asking for.

'What also needs to be said is at no point was the defence from either team weak or feeble; the hits were unbelievable and the contact situation was a real war today, yet despite the physicality we saw some excellent skills.

'The lock combination of JD Schickerling and Pieter-Steph du Toit was impressive, but Franco Mostert was right up there with them.

'Jantjies had an unhappy period with the Stormers under Allister Coetzee, who expected the flyhalf to play a game which was foreign to him. Now Allister is the Springbok coach and should by all accounts be looking at Elton and Faf, who’ve played together for four years in a very attacking, well-organised system. It’s my hope that the national coach will show confidence in them and even Pat Lambie to continue with his game plan.'

Bulls vs Reds

'I know the viewers like watching us on SuperSport, but I recommend that 10,000 people from Pretoria go and watch the Bulls’ next game at Loftus. That was an excellent win against the Reds. The Bulls played well on attack and were committed in defence. If they get the tighthead in their scrum right, the Bulls will push the Lions and Stormers hard towards the end of the season.'

Cheetahs vs Sunwolves

'We have to keep things in perspective. It was a good performance by the Cheetahs, but we have to counter-balance that with the quality of their opponents, who just didn’t pitch up today. The Sunwolves lost a lot of heart and belief. When you get a situation where a team is not competitive to the extent that they lose by 14 tries to two, it’s not good for the competition.

We were worried that it might happen to the Kings and it hasn’t. The Kings went over to New Zealand and were in all their games for 60 minutes, then it blew out in the last quarter and they would lose by 20 odd in the end. It was never as embarrassing as this.

'I’m very pleased for the Cheetahs, but I’d say they need to park this win away as it’s not a true reflection of Super Rugby.

'The tragedy of this game was at every set piece, the Sunwolves were going to give a penalty away. The lineouts were all skew, so they battled to keep possession there too. They were playing off scraps and playing off scraps badly. It was just an example of how not to play rugby.

'I’m really concerned for the future of the Sunwolves. Thank goodness they are not playing against the New Zealand franchises this year, because if they lose by 90 points to the Cheetahs, I can’t imagine what would happen if they were to play the Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders on consecutive weekends.'

Blues vs Sharks

'This was the game the Sharks were probably targeting to set the tone for the rest of the tour. They were leading for long periods of the game and it was a really poor bit of defence that led to the Sharks’ undoing and having defended so well, they will be extremely disappointed and frustrated with that missed tackle on Rieko Ioane. He is a sevens player and quite easily went around Beast [Mtawarira] and the replacement scrumhalf Michael Claassens to score. That was the nail in the coffin of the Sharks’ performance and they now have difficult games coming up.'

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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