‘Wallabies deserved win’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' match against the Wallabies.

‘I thought we played well for 60 minutes, Jesse Kriel's try was fantastic, and it looked like we had control of the game. Some of the substitutions made a difference, both the Australian substitutions and ours. Bismarck [du Plessis] had a wonderful game for 50 minutes and the substitution there I think was pre-planned to keep players in the mix. But Bismarck really had a big impact on the game, and the scrum didn't hold up as well in the last 20 minutes, but I feel that was more because of [Scott] Sio coming on and Greg Holmes, I thought those two guys scrummed incredibly well. 

'The Australians were outstanding, they missed penalty kicks, but the last 20 minutes they put us under a lot of pressure with ball in hand and our defence held out, and held out, but there's a lesson to be learned. You have to be very careful to play out the clock by using your forwards in little pods off the loose scrums because northern hemisphere refs don't like it and they look to the side with the ball and their players for sealing off the ball, and that's exactly what happened. We were penalised and it gave them [Australia] the opportunity to kick for the corner. They took a brave decision and got the result they probably deserved in the end. The call at the end was a very tight one, but I think the correct one.

'I just think he [Tevita Kuridrani] rolled over in the tackle [for the match-winning try]. Schalk [Burger] did his absolute best to get his hand under the ball, but there is a milli-second there where the ball touches the line. I think the TMO and the referee handled it as well as they possibly could. It was very difficult to see initially whether or not he got it down, but just the point of the ball goes down and just touches the ground.

'[David] Pocock made a big difference for them [the Wallabies] when he came on … Pocock and [Michael] Hooper combined together very well with [Scott] Fardy. But let's not quibble, our defence was great, I just think unfortunately we didn't hang onto the ball as much in the second half, as we did in the first.

'We have an exit strategy which we utilise a lot, which is the box-kick from the No 9 and the chase from the winger, but I thought [Israel] Folau was just outstanding under the high ball. So those tactics work if you get 50-50 balls back, but because Folau was so good there was perhaps an opportunity to kick the ball out a bit more, let them throw the ball in and allow for us to construct our defence and contest their lineouts. The box-kick was no longer a 50-50 ball, it was 95% in favour of Australia because Folau was so good.

'In general play, on defence, and with his turnovers, Bismarck was outstanding. He made the first turnover of the day … Kriel is also a really classy player, I thought his defence was outstanding. Funny enough, [Handre] Pollard missed a couple of tackles … But Damian [de Allende] and Kriel are combining very well, it's just with Pollard at No 10, it's three very inexperienced players next door to each other … Jesse's try was absolutely outstanding, he had a lot of work to do, but managed to score a fantastic try and the game was then in our hands.

'With 164 tackles that had to be made, it means we were playing a lot of the game without the ball. They played a possession-based game, which forced us to tackle a lot, although our defence was generally very good … They [the Wallabies] did deserve that try at the end.

'When it comes to a hamstring injury, it generally takes three to six weeks [to heal], so Victor [Matfield] should be fine for the World Cup, but with Marcell [Coetzee], that did not look good, I wasn't sure if it was a knee or an ankle [injury]. I think it was the left knee, he's a very tough rugby player and if he goes off you know it's something serious.'

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Nick Mallett