‘Physical defence won it for Bulls’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Super Rugby matches at Loftus and Ellis Park.

Stormers vs Bulls

'Wonderful, physical defence won this for the Bulls. I can’t speak enough about the efforts of RG Snyman and Jannes Kirsten who did tremendously today. It was wave after wave of Stormers attack and the two of them just hit ball-carriers and drove them back.

'The Bulls scrum held up well and that was crucial today. They managed to steal a few lineouts and on the gainline their physicality was far better than anything they showed in those last two games on tour against the Brumbies and Waratahs.

'Both teams realised that the team dominating physically was going to win and tried their best at the set piece. Then it came to the breakdown and because the Stormers were so lateral in the last two games against the Waratahs and Sunwolves, they were much more direct today and tried to get the driving maul going. But full credit must go to the Bulls for the way they countered the maul and that directness of the Stormers attack.

'The Bulls and Stormers are trying to evolve from a territory and set-piece orientated game and it’s going to take time. But what they have to have is a No 10 dominating his forwards and scrumhalf as to who he wants on the ball. He should be the chief communicator and they have to listen to him.

'Not one of the flyhalves at Loftus controlled the game well, which is why the game was of such a low quality. A flyhalf is supposed to set the play in motion, deciding who takes the ball forward between the forwards and the backs. In this game, I had the feeling the flyhalves were very much out of it. Neither Francois Brummer nor Jean-Luc du Plessis seized control in the way Pat Lambie and Elton Jantjies did in their respective matches. And that lessened the quality of the contest. If you play off No 9, and off kicks with a lot of physicality around the forwards, you are never going to get the variety that we’ve seen from the Lions.'

Lions vs Jaguares

'It is interesting to see an Argentinian side play with such abandon. They made so many mistakes and handling errors inside their own half and it played into the hands of the Lions, who made them pay off almost every turnover.

'The second half wasn’t nearly as tight and contested as the first, because there were fewer breakdowns and so many great counter-attacks. The Jaguares defence fell off after the break. The Lions scored two tries from kick-offs, because they literally just ran from inside the 22.

'We’ve seen South African sides taken to the cleaners when they have run out of gas and it’s good to see the Lions take the Jaguares to the cleaners. They conceded 52 points because they weren’t able to maintain the pace of the game and with both Lions kickers not having a good performance in front of the posts, it could easily have been at least another 10 points for the Lions.

'Julian Redelinghuys didn’t get the Man of the Match award, because it usually goes to a loose forward or back, but I must say him coming back into the team has made a tremendous difference to their scrum. I know he has gone on a Springbok tour, but he is an underrated tighthead prop and every time he plays, the Lions scrum is dominant.'

Note: Mallett did not comment on the Sharks vs Kings match as SuperSport switched straight to the Bulls vs Stormers game.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Nick Mallett