‘Boks were very, very poor’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' defeat to Ireland at Newlands.

'I’m afraid there’s no way you can sugarcoat this. This was a very, very poor Bok performance and the players must take responsibility. The only three guys who looked as though they were up for the game were Faf de Klerk [who started], and Warren Whiteley and Pieter-Steph du Toit when they came on. Senior players like Duane Vermeulen, Beast Mtawarira, both locks [Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager], Adriaan Strauss, Frans Malherbe, JP Pietersen, Willie le Roux and Damian de Allende were very poor today.

'We made so many handling mistakes and took so many bad decisions. We ran across the field, our defence was dreadfully passive. We played 50 minutes against 14 men and not once did we look like creating an opportunity to exploit that extra man. In fact, our tries came from an obstruction and an intercept. The Irish looked so much more enthusiastic. They were contesting every breakdown, getting off the line and tackling hard and it just didn’t look as though our guys were mentally up for the game.

'There were a number of occasions where we had five or six players on the blindside and one player cleaning the ruck. So that player was under constant pressure to try and get the ball back. The role of each player was not clearly defined. What was clear with that Irish side was that when they had the ball, they knew exactly which three or four players had to clean over that ball. We hardly made a turnover once Francois Louw was off the field. Our scrum and contact situation was very loose and theirs was very compact.

'What is important to the South African psyche is your captain must lead from the front. He has got to play a game which inspires the rest team of his team. And I thought Strauss had an uninspiring game today. Apart from his lineout throwing and his scrumming, which we know he can do well, I didn’t notice him at all. He's an aggressive defender and ball carrier, but he was very quiet today.

'Another little thing, why did we take so long to get Julian Redelinghuys on the field? Our scrum was under pressure when Ireland brought on one of their replacement props even though they had seven against eight. That was the time to get Redelinghuys on and start dominating. And to take Faf off was a mistake too. He was the one player who looked like he was going to spark something today.

'The Boks’ first try should not have been awarded. De Allende is not in a position to take the pass before he makes contact with the defender, so it is obstruction. But because there was a high tackle on Elton Jantjies, the referee was concentrating on whether it was a forward pass [from Jantjies to Lwazi Mvovo] first and then he saw the high tackle on Jantjies, so he wasn’t prepared to listen to Rory Best, who was complaining about De Allende’s obstruction. It should have been a yellow card for Robbie Henshaw, a penalty and no try.

'CJ Stander deserved a red card. The ball is over Stander’s head before he jumps and he rushes up and still follows through, connects with Pat Lambie and knocks him out. If the timing of a jump is wrong, it’s the jumper’s fault. It was very dangerous play by Stander and unfortunately that is a red card. It was a good decision by the TMO and the referee.

'If you look at the Boks' last attempt on the Irish line, why on earth is JP going so high up into tryline corner? You’ve got to duck your head down at knee level, and dive inwards so that the tacklers can’t hold you up and bundle you into touch. I’m not saying we would have kicked the conversion, but he must finish better than that.

'Decision-making in the backline is where we need to see improvement. Lambie, Jantjies and Faf make good decisions. De Allende does not make good decisions and because of that Mapoe had very few opportunities today. Willie made some really poor decisions. He ran laterally today, worse than I’ve ever seen before, and he used up all the space for the players on the outside.

'Our backline players’ understanding of how to create space is very, very poor. And our forwards were running into where they would get the ball next instead of ensuring that they get the ball on the front foot initially. De Jager goes straight into contact twice and gets the ball stripped off him. Surely you learn after the first time to protect the ball better? Etzebeth flew in over the top, Malherbe flew in over the top and came in from the wrong side. Our rugby decisions are poor and our rugby technique is very poor.

'I’m not sure whether the defensive strategy was to let Ireland play out their moves and then make double tackles, but unfortunately when you allow a team to use the space between the advantage line and where they received the ball to gain momentum, they get over that advantage line easily.

'Our tackling was passive. We were pulling players to the ground instead of driving them back and the difference between the Irish defence and ours was absolutely noticeable. They got off the line and put our backline players and forward carriers under pressure. I’m not sure whether the team was told to stay on the advantage line and defend passively, but it’s the wrong way to defend. We saw England dominate Australia with an aggressive defence and even Wales did it against New Zealand in the first half and now Ireland did it against us. We’ve got players who like tackling, we just have to cut down the time the opposition have on the ball. Quite frankly, our defence coach needs to rethink his strategy.

'The exciting attacking opportunities came from Ireland today. I saw Jared Payne at fullback do two brilliant offloads after getting through a half gap and Paddy Jackson went straight through Strauss and chipped ahead. Luckily for us, Faf’s brilliant cover defending just beat him to the ball to prevent another try.

'There’s a lot of work to be done in one week, otherwise we will lose the series against a very efficient Ireland team.'

Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images

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Nick Mallett