‘SA can learn from Hurricanes’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Vodacom Super Rugby semi-finals.

Hurricanes vs Brumbies

'The Hurricanes should have scored three tries within the first 10 minutes, and went on to score four, so they thoroughly deserved to win.

'The reason there were so many missed tackles from the Brumbies [32] is that the Hurricanes are a team who stay on their feet, offload in the tackle and take the ball away from the defensive structures as opposed to attacking them. They encapsulate the New Zealand rugby philosophy and South Africans can learn from them.

'The key is they don't coach according to areas of the field … that you're in your danger zone so you've got to kick, or you're between the 22m lines so you've got to kick an up-and-under. They look at the situation and coach the situation. If they get a turnover or a poor kick they immediately look for a two-pass policy. They move the ball into the middle of the field and suddenly from being on their 22 they have possession on their 10m line and are looking to play again. The Hurricanes also understand when it's on to move the ball wide or when they've got to set a target.

'Their pack is far more physical and accurate [than in the past], and they scored a lovely try from a driving maul. It's not as if they ignore the forward areas of the game. Their lineout was good, their scrum was good and their driving maul was good. Their defence around the fringes was also good and their ball runners excellent.

'The two Saveas [Ardie and Julian] were outstanding, and James Broadhurst had a fantastic game. The Hurricanes have outstanding individuals who can make a difference, not just one but five or six.'

Waratahs vs Highlanders

'I want to give all credit to the referee [Craig Joubert], I think his decision [to award the Highlanders a penalty try] was absolutely outstanding. Jacques Potgieter came in with a swinging arm to the head [of Patrick Osborne] and his knee got in the way of the ball, so there's absolutely no doubt that it was an illegal tackle and it stopped a try. I thought it was wonderful refereeing and his decisions to award a penalty try and give Potgieter a yellow card were both correct. He showed a lot of courage to make that call in front of a hostile crowd. And despite George Ayoub asking to take another look, Craig took the decision away from the TMO and made it himself.

'With Richard Buckman's try [when the Highlanders centre was tackled before getting back to his feet] Craig was right next to that tackle. If you look at it again in slow motion, when his knee hits the ground, he's not held [by the tackler]. And you have to be held in the tackle when one knee hits the ground [for a penalty to be awarded]. Buckman was not held so he had every right to get back up. When Nick Phipps was tackled, both of the tacklers were holding him when his knee hit the ground. Craig said Phipps had been held and went back for the knock-on. So again, let's give full kudos to the referee. He is a world-class referee and we saw why today.

'Nasi Manu is the key ball-carrier for the Highlanders. They need to get momentum from somewhere and they can't only get it from their backline. Every single time he went forward and presented the ball.

'Ben Smith said afterwards that the Waratahs' pack is world-class, well, he's just being polite because they are by no means world-class, they are actually very ordinary. This Highlanders pack hasn't got a single player in the All Blacks team and they were able to score a try by wheeling and putting pressure on the Waratahs scrum.

'The Highlanders kicked an awful lot, they looked like a South African team. Aaron Smith was kicking into the corner, Lima Sopoaga kicked cross-kicks and into the corner, Ben Smith kicked up-and-unders as opposed to counter-attacking and Waisake Naholo's try came from a kick and chase. They realised the Waratahs were using a press defence, which presented space on the outside and at the back.'

Photo: Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

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Nick Mallett