What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend’s Super Rugby matches involving South African teams.
Highlanders vs Lions
‘I think there was an opportunity there [for a Lions win]. They should have beaten the Reds [in Brisbane], and they should have beaten the Blues at home.
‘This was a possible opportunity. Not normally, because the Highlanders were at home and are a very difficult team to beat at home. But we saw what the Sharks did to them last week [in Durban] and they had to travel all the way back [to New Zealand]. Given that the Lions were there already and over any jet lag problems, I think that it was a possibility [that they could win].
‘But as we keep on saying, no [Warren] Whiteley, no [Jaco] Kriel and no [Malcolm] Marx left big gaps in their leadership group and that might have been part of the problem.’
Stormers vs Chiefs
‘The Stormers were held out by an excellent Chiefs performance away from home. The Chiefs controlled the ball well and controlled the territory. I thought Damian McKenzie had an excellent game, his kicking game was good and he is also a threat himself [with ball in hand].
‘The Stormers had to make a lot of tackles, more than the Chiefs – it was 179 to 103. It wasn’t a comprehensive win by the Chiefs but it was a well-controlled game.
‘I do think they were assisted by the referee [Mike Fraser]. I don’t think he had the best game and I am not so sure about the system where New Zealand referees ref New Zealand teams. I am not saying this as a biased South African supporter.
‘I don’t think he got the scrums 100% right, particularly when [Steven] Kitshoff was on the field. He got them correct when [JC Janse] van Rensburg was on the field; the penalty try was a penalty try. But before that, I thought Kitshoff was unfairly penalised and it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. You want referees to be neutral.’
Bulls vs Sharks
‘I think the Bulls deserved it in the end. It was a cracking game of rugby. The Bulls had a better understanding of their attacking shape in particular. They never seem to be out of position.
‘I really enjoyed the forwards offloading for the Bulls and obviously there were some outstanding performances. Guys who pushed their Bok credentials today. Warrick Gelant had another excellent game, Travis Ismaiel was good under the high ball, Jesse Kriel is having a much better year and timing his passes better, Handré Pollard was a good general today, Lood de Jager and RG Snyman made great tackles and ball carries.
‘Marco van Staden is a dark horse [for the Boks] as an openside flanker. He is someone no one has really been speaking about but he has good upper body strength, is good under the ball and is difficult to bring down.
‘In the Sharks side, probably only Sbu Nkosi [did well] as a backline player. I would say that had a lot to do with the Sharks losing their attacking shape. They had to go back to the Du Preez brothers [Jean-Luc and Daniel] taking it up with a couple of forward charges. I thought they lost shape at times.
‘Out of this game, it was probably only the Du Preez brothers and Akker van der Merwe who came out well in their performance.
‘It was a nice physical, robust South African derby. The Sharks contributed nicely to it. It was a much better game than they played at home [when they lost 40-10 to the Bulls].
‘We can be really proud of it because if this game was between two New Zealand sides, we would be sitting here saying it was fantastic. We sometimes don’t promote South African rugby enough. This was a great game, so well done to both sides.
‘Just on the yellow cards, I thought the late charge [on Cameron Wright by RG Snyman] was an obvious yellow card and well spotted by [referee] Rasta Rasivhenge. The second one, I felt a bit sorry for Lukhanyo Am because [André] Warner jumped very late and Am goes down to make the tackle and he knew immediately he made a mistake. It was costly because if they wanted to win the game they needed to stay with 15 men.
‘A quick compliment to Rasta. I thought he was excellent. The work that he did with his touch judges was very good. I heard him talking to his touch judge, asking for help at the scrums. A lot of the time the TMO comes in often for things that aren’t clear or obvious. I thought Marius Jonker waited until there was a clear and obvious mistake and drew Rasta’s attention to it. I thought our officials were outstanding.’
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images