‘Sharks old, tired and unimaginative’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Saturday's matches in Durban and Johannesburg.

On the Sharks

'The Crusaders completely outclassed a Sharks side that looked old, tired and unable to handle the skill levels of the side in front of them. The Sharks were slow, unimaginative, made so many handling mistakes and were completely outplayed.

'They had an opportunity after that disastrous first half to get at the Crusaders. They had 14 players against 12 with the possibility to score two tries and get themselves back within 10 points.

'Instead, they kicked away possession. They carried on with their normal game plan of not playing any rugby in their half, so they kicked the ball back to the Crusaders, who kept hold of the ball and didn't give it back.

'The Crusaders with 12 players, scored 14 points, and the Sharks with 14 players, scored none. That was the most disappointing period of the game. There was a complete lack of understanding on what they needed to do on a rugby field.'

On the Crusaders

'The Crusaders were so comfortable with ball in hand. They were looking to offload on their feet, looking to pass to a player in space, looking for mismatches with backs against forwards – it was just a wonderful display of rugby from the Crusaders.

'In a place that's usually difficult to handle in at this time of the year, their handling was superb.'

On Jean Deysel's red card

'I'm ashamed of South African players who behave like this. Bismarck [du Plessis] was completely in the wrong [against the Chiefs] – it was only two weeks ago.

'Surely the Sharks coaches have been speaking about this, that it's unacceptable behaviour on the field. You cannot knee a guy in the head, it's just ridiculous and he thoroughly deserved a red card.

'As an ex-South African coach and player, I cannot stand seeing things like this on the field and it's a disgrace to rugby.'

On the Lions

'The enthusiasm that the Lions showed in this game, just in terms of their defence, in terms of their willingness to play the ball and keep it in hand was tremendous.

'Even after going down from that penalty in the 78th minute, there was a belief that if they won the kick-off, they could still create something. They contested the ball and Howard Mnisi – who earlier this season was at fault for dropping the ball over the line against the Stormers – picked up the loose ball and set up the attacking opportunity.

'When the referee decides to give the offside penalty, Faf de Klerk wasn't even thinking of going for posts. He's followed the referee, taken the quick tap and Armand van der Merwe followed his scrumhalf and was on hand to score the try. It was a good, positive piece of play and they deserved to win it.'

On the Lions' game plan

'They had a clearer game plan, they play for each other and that's why they're a team I enjoy watching. They commit two players to a tackle – someone will go low and the other will try and contest the ball. If it's a defensive tackle, they fan immediately. They've got good spacing, and they don't come out of line, so they defend well as a unit, and they defend with width.

'On top of that, when they do get an offensive tackle, they're quick in there to try and counter-ruck. They've got a very clear idea of what to do on defence, and on attack.

'They move the ball really well. They've got some lovely play off nine, they play off 10, they play behind the back of forwards, and it looks like a much more New Zealand-style of rugby.'

On Franco Mostert

'Mostert has been an unsung hero in the lock department. He's a guy who hasn't had much rest this season, but he throws his body around, cleans rucks, makes lots of tackles and is their key lineout organiser.

'Whether he's international class, I'm not sure yet, but he's certainly Super Rugby class.'

On the Bulls' decision to substitute Adriaan Strauss

'It's a tricky one because he's an international player and a guy who needs to rest at certain parts of the season. They probably thought with the rain coming down that 20 minutes with fresh legs would make all the difference, but Strauss was making an impact for the Bulls during the second half.

'He got a good turnover, was carrying the ball well and their scrum was going particularly well. From the time he went off, they started to go backwards in the scrum. In fact, that whole front row suffered against Julian Redelinghuys and Akker van der Merwe in the last 20 minutes.'

On the Bulls selection of Jacques-Louis Potgieter

'I think we have a real problem in South Africa with giving youngsters a chance early. We give them five or 10 minutes at the end of the game.

'But if Tian Schoeman was on the bench for Handré Pollard, came on and did well for 10 minutes, why not give him an opportunity to start this game and get Potgieter to play off the bench if he has to?

'I think that young players, especially backline players, need to get an opportunity sooner rather than later.'

Five lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby matches

Photo: BackpagePix

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