‘SA lacking depth’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's matches involving South African teams.

On the Cheetahs

'I think the scoreline flattered the Cheetahs a little bit. They did have a very good 20-minute patch where they went and scored three tries and had another one disallowed for a forward pass, but the game had already been won by that stage.'

On the Highlanders

'You have to take your hat off to the Highlanders. They showed tremendous skill, scored wonderful tries in the first half and had the game closed-out virtually after half-time. When the Cheetahs had that brief period where they fought their way back into the game, they still had the class to score the last try.'

On South Africa's depth

'The Lions have played above themselves and have played incredibly well to be where they are. Given the way the Cheetahs performed in this game, how on earth are the Kings going to compete next year? Where are they going to find the players? It's a big concern for 2016. We're going to have an extra Super Rugby franchise and we've got 350 professional rugby players competing overseas.'

On tactical kicking

'Every single one of his [Lima Sopoaga's] kicks were offensive kicks. It was a kick in order to get the ball back. It wasn't a kick to give away the ball. It was a kick for the centre, it was a cross kick for the wing or it was a long kick which stayed in play forcing the Cheetahs to kick it out so they regained possession. It's the quality and the accuracy of their kicking that was outstanding. There is so much thought that goes into it. It's incorrect to say that New Zealand sides don't kick. They do kick but they kick very differently from the way we kick.'

On South African coaches

'At half-time we heard Naka [Drotské] say it's back to basics. So for the first 10 minutes of the second half we saw driving mauls and up-and-unders. And it was strange that they were kicking up-and-unders on Patrick Osborne because he's a very big guy.

'The coaching that you get in New Zealand is very different from what you get here. At practice they will put players into situations that they'll face in game. They will play attack against defence. The attack is faced with varying types of defence – a press defence, a shift defence, a slow defence, a staggered defence, a tight defence or a wide defence. And they get the attack to choose the right option in relation to the defence they're confronted with.

'South African coaches have a tendency to say, “From this lineout we're going to do this move. We're going to play the centre on a crashball. We'll play the same direction with forwards off No 9, then we'll bring it back the other way with a pod of forwards off No 9 and if we get momentum then we'll play it wide”.

'But it's all pre-programmed and it's easy to telegraph. Whereas what the New Zealand teams do is give the No 10 the power to make those decisions on the field of play. He will direct during phase play who needs to get the ball. And that's why they read the situation so much better than us.'

On the Brumbies

'The Brumbies looked like a team coached by Stephen Larkham. They still had grunt in the forwards, they still got good front-foot ball, but it was a well-coached, well-drilled, well-organised Brumbies side that scored some magnificent tries against what has been a very good Lions side. The week before they looked like an unhappy, bad-tempered, niggly team and just in one week they've managed to turn it around.'

On Nic White

'Nic White thoroughly deserved the Man of the Match. He started off in the first five minutes irritating the referee and he was warned. And from that moment on he concentrated on playing rugby, and he played very well. His clearing at the base of the ruck was fantastic. His kicking was judicious – it was always at the right moment. And it was a long day at the office for the Lions.'

On the referees

'The only highlight for South Africa this weekend was the performance from our referees. Jaco Peyper and Stuart Berry were absolutely objective and they refereed both games very fairly unlike Rohan Hoffmann for the Sharks this morning, who was absolutely shocking. And it's not the first time he's been shocking. He was hopeless in the match between the Stormers and the Hurricanes where he apologised but he cost the Stormers 14 points. So he needs to retire.'

On the Lions' substitutions

'The Lions completely dominated the first half in the scrums, winning about five penalties. What has been a strength of the Lions has been the consistency with which their replacements have performed and matched the first-half front row, but unfortunately that didn't happen today. They got absolutely hammered in the final 20 minutes, and the one area where the Lions had been strong went with their chances of winning the match.'

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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