‘Stupid errors cost Boks’

What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' 37-21 loss to England at Twickenham on Saturday.

England vs Boks

'It doesn’t matter if you’re in the game at half-time. We were in the game at half-time against the All Blacks twice this year and that didn’t stop us from losing by 40 and 50-plus points. It’s not good enough to just be in a game for 40 minutes, you’ve got to have a defensive and attacking game, attacking kicking shape and defensive kicking shape for 82 minutes, because other teams can play for that long if the game depends on it. It‘s no good to say at half-time we were in the game. England outplayed us over 80 minutes.

'Billy Vunipola had an extraordinary game against very big South African forwards, who tackle hard. He got forward momentum every time he carried the ball. He’s also got soft hands and took up-and-unders well. We had four locks on the field, but what we needed was an openside flank to slow their ball down.'

Boks’ poor grasp of pillar defence

'The first defender has to defend a metre away from the ruck and not in the ruck. He controls the pick-and-go and anyone coming back on the inside pass.

'The second tackler’s role is to make the inside tackle on the first receiver and to control the scrumhalf. Twice today Ben Youngs ran across the field and the second defender, Pieter-Steph du Toit, does not control him. He goes for the intercept first and then he doesn’t know who to go for. Youngs sold him two dummies which led to two tries. If Du Toit knew what his role was, he’d smash Youngs in the tackle, he’d kill him I believe. The third defender has to take the first receiver after the flyhalf.

'It’s a lack of understanding what their roles are and what they must do. That is the result of having three different defensive coaches in six months. It confuses the players.

'Unless they practice it very hard, players will never know or understand their roles in defence. No 1 must know he has to watch the pick-and-go and the scrumhalf when he breaks narrow; No 2 must hit the scrumhalf if he runs across the field or mark the player running on to an inside pass from the scrumhalf. If the scrumhalf passes wide, that person is the third defender’s man. Everyone else can set off them, knowing what their roles are. The pace of the defence is organised by the third defender in particular.'

Five issues that led to Boks’ demise

– 'We had no real loose forwards today that understood the role of loose-forward play. England’s back rowers were more effective, hence they got quick ball and we got slow ball.
– 'Our inability to get quick ball. Paige was quite slow in his clearance of the ball, whereas their scrumhalf was a lot faster. The ball availability for Youngs was far quicker than for Paige, which meant he could make decisions on the front foot.
– 'Defensive lack of understanding in roles No 1, 2 and 3. And that often involves a prop, lock and loose forward.
– 'Aerial errors by JP Pietersen and Willie le Roux. Their failure to secure the ball in the air cost us.
– 'Stupid unforced errors like Pat Lambie kicking the ball out on the full from a restart; Le Roux kicking the ball dead from a penalty, that sort of thing. If you add all those things up, those are the reasons why we conceded 37 points.'

Selections against Italy next week

'It’s an opportunity for Coetzee to have a look at what the Lions backline can do against a weak international team. Why don’t we start with Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe and Ruan Combrinck, along with Sergeal Petersen and Jamba Ulengo as the wingers. Get a decent pack of forwards and let’s see if we can get that forward momentum that we require.'

Photo: Ashley Western/Getty Images

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Nick Mallett