‘Faf was outstanding’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' win over Argentina in Nelspruit.

'Right up until 70 minutes, the Boks were very disappointing. But had they taken all their opportunities – knocked over a couple of penalties and Lionel Mapoe scored that try – then we might have built that 10-point buffer that would have given us more comfort going into the last 20 minutes.

'No one is going to be more relieved than the Boks. It was slipping away, but they had a good finish to the game with a great try down the blindside. It’s so nice to see Warren Whiteley score in the corner. But there were a couple of embarrassing situations. The kick straight into Adriaan Strauss's head by Elton Jantjies and Whiteley trying to kick the ball out and having to catch his own up and under. It was a comedy of errors, but we are all happy with the win.

'Argentina’s captain, Agustín Creevy, said they gave away too many penalties. Well, the penalty count was 11 to nine which was pretty even. Both teams made similar mistakes. The handling errors were 18 to 19 and missed tackles were 19 to 18. It wasn’t a game that rose to any great heights mainly because of the poor handling, and perhaps the weather.

'Faf de Klerk was outstanding. His natural run and late switch with Johan Goosen was wonderfully done and he also earned us that scrum in the first place by ferociously getting in on their scrumhalf and forcing him to knock the ball on.

'Pieter-Steph du Toit coming on the field made a big difference. Just his tap tackle on Juan Martín Hernández got us that penalty to get back at 23-23. The two of them and Jaco Kriel brought a lot of urgency into the team.

'Oupa Mohoje’s defence was outstanding. He was all over the field and often made good, impactful tackles and he was good in the lineouts. It was interesting because there was talk of getting Du Toit on at blindside flank, but instead they took Lood de Jager off and kept Mohoje on, which was thoroughly deserved.

'There were question marks about Goosen’s positional play at fullback, particularly with that little chip over the backline. Either the scrumhalf has to cover for him or else he shouldn’t come up in the line and leave no one at the back for that try.

'We’ve had a go at Damian de Allende for quite a long time for just taking the ball into contact. What was encouraging today was the quick hands by Damian, which makes such a big difference. Suddenly Mapoe looked a much better player and the attack had a bit more width. That was because the ball was moved through the hands better, especially in the first half. We can be supercritical and say why didn’t they score more tries, but they created opportunities to score. There was one which Eben Etzebeth could have scored and one Mapoe definitely should have scored and still they were able to get back into the game in the last 10 minutes in difficult circumstances.

'Where I think we were poor, was under the high ball. And it’s crucial to get that right because we might play our game in New Zealand in wet weather, like the Lions did. We need to have wet-weather skills as well as good dry-weather skills.

'This weekend has shown us that New Zealand are 10 to 20 points better any other team in the world, including England, who are justifiably second because of those three wins against the Wallabies. At the moment South Africa are in a batch of teams with Australia, Argentina, Ireland, Wales and France, who are all fairly close. On any day the Boks can win and on any day they can beat us. What Allister Coetzee has to do is take us out of that group and make us the second best in the world.

'Ireland gave us trouble, Argentina gave us trouble and will do so against next week and when we play against Australia we are going to be in difficulty. Before we can start saying we are going to beat New Zealand, let’s get ourselves away from these other teams first.'

Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images

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