‘It was men against boys’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say about the Springboks performance against Scotland.

'Often a good Springbok performance depends on nervous energy and a real keen anticipation, and clearly before last week's game against the Welsh there was a bit of complacency after the team wasn't changed. After a narrow victory where we arguably could've lost the game, the side was very excited to get on the field today and really wanted to prove a point.

'Unfortunately for the Scots, they were brave, tried to do impressive things, but it was men against boys. Their little guys against our big guys. They had the ball for the last five minutes and they didn't have a player who looked like he could run through our team or break a tackle. No matter how hard they tried, they were just completely outclassed.

'Congratulations to the Boks for holding it together because we had a bad 15 minutes before the end of the first half, but we came out in the second and really consolidated it nicely.

'I think he [Heyneke Meyer] knows what his No 1 team is. What he's managed to do now is get strength in depth in most positions. Playing against northern hemisphere sides at home this June gives the guys a tremendous amount of confidence, and those guys who did well in Super Rugby have won Springbok caps, and they've gone into a game where we've played well and they would've come out of it with confidence.

'In Victor [Matfield] you have a player whose strong point is not hitting rucks, so you have to have a forward who does that. He's played all his life with Bakkies Botha. We're very fortunate in South Africa to have Eben Etzebeth, who can do the same job, and this youngster Lood de Jager, who came through last year. And even in Super Rugby in a slightly battling Cheetahs team he has always proved that he's very physical. He's had two great caps now for the Springboks, he's been so physical, knocking the guys back. Looking at the locks for the World Cup, I think Pieter-Steph du Toit did enough to be in the running. You've got now between Bakkies, Etzebeth and Lood de Jager as options as your No 4 lock. There's plenty of options and that's a nice position to be in.

'We got isolated on a number of occasions. I thought that 20-minute period before half-time the Scots managed to hold onto possession very well and we were missing someone like Francois Louw. Duane Vermeulen is very good at turning the ball over, Bismarck du Plessis is very good in the tight-loose, but when it moves two channels out we need an openside flanker who will get over the ball, someone like Heinrich Brüssow. We need someone who will slow down opposition ball and perhaps steal one or two balls. If we're going to let opposition like the All Blacks hold onto the ball for two minutes, it's going to be a different story. They're not Scotland, they will find a way through our defences.

'We are still not convincing in the scrums. It's the one area of the game that I worry about. Our lineouts are solid, our driving mauls are well organised, we have a good exit strategy, a good kicking game, great ball carrying forwards, backs who hit the advantage line at pace, a very creative fullback and good pace on the wings, but if Jannie [du Plessis] gets injured we're in a bit of trouble. We didn't use this June as an opportunity to blood a new tighthead. We gave Coenie [Oosthuizen] a bit of a go and it arguably wasn't a great success. Here was perhaps an opportunity to give a longer time to Marcel van der Merwe, but he played a lot of the game at loosehead. Bismarck du Plessis has also played a tremendous amount of rugby this season, so those brothers have held both the Sharks' front row together and the Springboks' front row together for a very long time and they need to be rested. In the same way that we've rejuvenated a lot of players by bringing youngsters into their positions and helped to produce competition, we haven't done that up front.'

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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