‘It was a fantastic final’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Currie Cup final. 

'I thought the two teams created such a special atmosphere today. It was a fantastic afternoon of rugby and a lot of those guys are going to get Super Rugby contracts next year. There was tremendous respect between the sides and nothing close to a yellow card, because the match was beautifully refereed by Craig Joubert. 

'Joubert gave the Lions credit for a dominating scrum and he played advantage really well and allowed Western Province to avoid scrummaging if they could.  

'This Currie Cup was a vibrant, brilliant competition with some wonderful young talent. Obviously in sport the winners carry all the accolades, but I really think we've got to give a tremendous amount of credit to the Lions as well. Warren Whiteley is another example of these captains that South Africa produces. He showed tremendous grace in defeat.

'In the first half, the Lions kicked against the south easter and they are probably not used to kicking into the wind on the highveld. And those missed kicks cost them the game. Any cut or hook on the ball gets over emphasised. The interesting thing was that Demetri Catrakilis converted all his chances. He was metronomic, it was just a factual three when he kicked the ball. Whereas that last kick with Marnitz Boshoff, I knew he was going to miss it, even though my heart broke for him. Once you've missed three, it's difficult to succeed with such a difficult kick from the touchline, some 40m back. The Lions had created the opportunities to score points, but they didn't profit from it. 

'Players who have stepped up and are exciting prospects for Super Rugby are Boshoff, Jaco Kriel, Whiteley, Akker van der Merwe and Schalk van der Merwe; they can all comfortably play Super Rugby and play well. For Province, NIzaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jean Kleyn and Nic Groom were outstanding throughout the season.

'The Lions keep ball in hand well, but their defence wasn't up to standard. They needed variety, because once they stick to one game plan, it becomes predictable and plays right into the opposition's hands. Jacques Nienaber deserves a mention for all the defensive work he has put in with Province teams over the years, it paid dividends today. 

Kriel has been outstanding this season. He and Carr were exceptional today. They are very different, in that Kriel has the greater ball-fetching ability and Carr is better with offloading. Between the two sets of loose forwards, it was interesting that Province dominated the lineouts, with Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt. 

With the flyhalves, Kurt Coleman is a very unlucky player, but Catrakilis has shown calmness in these situations, and there's going to be a real battle between them next year.' 

Photo: Betram Malgas/Gallo Images

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