• ‘Sharks have peaked’

    What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the matches at the Free State Stadium and Newlands.

    FREE STATE STADIUM

    'I cannot understand how a referee calls advantage over from a penalty 5m from the opposition line. There is no advantage over unless you score a try. A knock-on you call advantage over once there's been a few passes or the guy kicks the ball but for a penalty, the advantage you can get is to score a try. They should've gone back for the penalty. It doesn't matter how many phases they played, unless they scored the try, there was no advantage to the Sharks.

    'The Sharks have peaked, and now to go and beat what is a confident Stormers side after their win against the Bulls today, it suddenly looks a much bigger ask than it was two or three weeks before the international break. The Sharks were riding high and looking really good for the top spot, now it looks as though they might finish third.

    'It was very interesting to see Franco Smith in the coaching box, I haven't seen him there before. He seems to have finished up overseas and has been included as part of the Cheetahs assistant coaching staff. Franco had a very successful time in Treviso as head coach where he coached for about five years. He took Treviso from a very average Italian team to one that was competitive in the [Celtic] Pro12, which was a great effort. He's a coach who has had a lot of experience overseas and I think that little bit of freshness coming in has done a world of good to the Cheetahs.

    'Cobus Reinach's performance on tour with the Sharks was exemplary, where he scored two long-range tries. He is a player with real X factor. He has the ability to break a game up with a 75m try, but he's also got good skills around the base of the scrum. His service is sharp and his kicking game is also very good. So I'm very surprised that he hasn't been in the Springboks' plans. I don't see anyone else in South Africa of international standard and I think now is the perfect opportunity to get him into the Springbok squad and have a look at him.'

    NEWLANDS

    'The Stormers have really made a turnaround. Halfway through the season they decided to get better balance in their game. It was very defence orientated with very little ball-in-hand play and subsequent to the arrival of Gert Smal as the director of rugby, Allister Coetzee was under a lot of pressure. They didn't panic, they weren't going to qualify [for the play-offs], so they went about improving their brand of rugby. They've played some super rugby in the second half of the season.

    'Victor Matfield has spent some time on the side of the field as a coach and clearly he has a lot of authority in the Bulls team, not only as a captain and as a leader, but also as an assistant coach. He was talking on the field like a coach would talk to a referee. All rugby players feel at times that they're being hard done by from the referee, but it's very seldom that you get a captain really tick off a referee in the way that Victor did to Craig Joubert. A player needs to understand that you must remain a player on the rugby field, the referee remains the sole judge of fact. You might be frustrated, but you can't challenge the referee like that. The final law in the rule book is the referee is always right … even when he's wrong.

    'We've gone on all year about the Bulls playing an unbalanced loose trio. They've got three ball-carrying loose forwards and the Stormers play a hooker who's a fetcher and two loose forwards who are very capable of turning the ball over. That was what frustrated the Bulls today.

    'Kurt Coleman handled the game superbly. In the pouring rain he was putting grubbers in, chips in, he kicked with good distance, he attacked the line and created a try and his defence was impeccable. He is a very good, young rugby player with very few weaknesses in his game. Since he's been given the freedom to play what's in front of him the Stormers backs are looking so much better.'

    Five things we learned this weekend

    Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix

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    Nick Mallett