What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend's Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.
Kings vs Lions
‘It was very difficult for the Kings to come up against the best South African franchise and still remain competitive; they still have a lot of work ahead of them. What sets the Lions apart is that they have a well-organised attack and a clear understanding of what each player's role is in every single decision.
‘What I’m concerned about from a Lions' point of view is the injuries in the front row. They’ve lost Malcolm Marx, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee and Ruan Dreyer. Their launching pad from the scrum is critical to their success and without a dominant scrum it becomes a more even contest.
‘Full credit to the Kings for holding on so well in the first 20 minutes. They made the Lions work hard for this win. Unlike the Sunwolves against the Cheetahs last week, the Kings didn’t just roll over. We saw them having a full go the whole game despite knowing they weren’t as good as the Lions and that is how they earned respect in this game.
'The Kings made 108 tackles and missed 20, which is 21%. One surprise is the 15 out of 55 tackles the Lions missed, which is a much higher percentage. But perhaps there’s something to be said about them wanting to score tries and so they don’t concentrate as much on defence.
‘Week in and week out Franco Mostert puts in these big performances. He is the most extraordinary player, because he does everything at 100%. Now you’d expect a person who plays like that every week at Super Rugby level to be injured occasionally, but not this guy. He has been great for the past 18 months and it’s tragic that he is overseas bound at the end of the season because the Lions are going to find it difficult to replace him.’
Stormers vs Reds
‘This was a very poor game in terms of quality from professional players. The concentration levels were extremely poor. There was a lot of over-confidence in the Stormers camp before the match. But we saw a lot of individual mistakes and lack of concentration and basics skills. The only thing good from a South African perspective, was that the Stormers came out with a win when they were in a difficult position.
‘The Stormers were down to their fourth-choice flyhalf, Brandon Thomson, and he actually had a good game when he came on. So, it shows we have the talent here in South Africa. Unfortunately those talents are often just at the major unions.
‘I don’t think Damian de Allende has captaincy potential. It was interesting to see once Schalk Burger got on, how he was talking to the team, calmed them down when they wanted to take a quick tap and forced them to take the three points on offer to stretch the Stormers’ lead to more than seven. And just generally how he pulled it together when the score was a little too close for comfort. I just wonder why Nizaam Carr wasn’t made captain for this game instead of De Allende. He has led the team before. It doesn't make sense just to appoint a guy as captain because he is a Springbok but has no leadership skills.’
Highlanders vs Sharks
‘The way in which [Sharks captain] Beast Mtawarira approached the ref was completely incorrect. In one instance he actually said, “It’s not fair, it’s not fair. You’re just trying to even things up”. Which is in a way saying that the referee is cheating and not officiating with objectivity. You cannot, as a captain, make accusations like that. When I saw where the chat originated from, the scrum had collapsed and Beast’s head was in the grass, a penalty was given and a yellow card for JP Pietersen. He didn’t even see that JP cynically grabbed a guy’s foot and deserved a card. So he comes in and harasses the referee. It’s not right.
'The same thing happened with their coach [Gary Gold], who went up to the TMO [during the match against the Crusaders] and had a full go at him. My concern with the Sharks is that there’s a culture of blame which I don’t think we need in South African rugby teams. I want our captains to handle officials better than what we saw from Beast this week and against the Crusaders a few weeks ago.
‘Unlike the Stormers, another major problem at the Sharks has been the loss of Pat Lambie, which exposed their lack of depth at flyhalf. Joe Pietersen is a fullback who can also play flyhalf, but he is not a Super Rugby quality flyhalf and the Sharks’ attack has suffered because of that. Garth April did well yesterday, but he played against 14 players.’
Note: Mallett did not comment on the game between the Rebels and Cheetahs in Melbourne.
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images