What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Super Rugby semi-finals.
CRUSADERS vs SHARKS
'The Sharks' game plan can only be excused if they win every game they play because they don't play attractive rugby. It's pressure rugby, kicking rugby, too much playing without the ball. They do their best to put the opposition under pressure and then play off their mistakes, as opposed to hold onto the ball yourself and force the opposition into mistakes that way. Their kicking is often from first phase which is very easy for the opposition to read. The Crusaders kick from fourth or fifth phase when there is space at the back after they've brought up the opposition wingers. They isolate the ball carrier and make it into a contestable kick or they hit grass. Without the win, this is a flawed game plan. It's not attractive, not successful and ultimately is going to drive supporters away.
'The Sharks made the semi-finals, but they made it playing a different style of rugby from the three other teams that are there. Their game plan relies on territory and a huge defence. It depends on the dominance of your pack and especially the accuracy of your kicking game. Today they didn't have an accurate kicking game. If you don't have all those things working for you and you don't have the ability to fall back on playing the situation and skills, then you fall short. And they fell short badly today.
'You have to have a varied attacking game. The one thing that we in South Africa haven't got at the moment is a team that plays with a varied attacking game. Our attacking game is based on driving mauls, pick-and-go's and forwards off nine. The New Zealanders and the Australians use pick-and-go's, driving mauls, play off nine, play off 10 and they have the wide patterns to the wingers. They have the abilities to use all five of those attacking strategies to put the opposition under pressure. And the more varied your attacking strategy is, the harder it is to defend against. Perhaps this is just an orange light for South African rugby going into the Rugby Championship.'
WARATAHS vs BRUMBIES
'It's interesting that these two teams, and the Crusaders, play a style of rugby that includes the backs and the forwards. They have a flyhalf playing inside centre – Dan Carter for the Crusaders, Kurtley Beale for the Waratahs and Christian Lealiifano for the Brumbies – so you see an integrated game plan from all these sides.
'The defences of both teams were excellent. Their speed off the line and their tackle technique was good. They went low and put the player down, allowing the player on his feet to contest the ball. I thought the ref handled the game well, he was under a lot of pressure from both captains.
'I think it's going to be a really close final, but the benefit must go to the Waratahs who are playing at home. The five to nine points that it gives you is going to be really vital for them because I think that they're going to struggle against the Crusaders in the scrums and the lineouts. The Crusaders lineout was very effective today and their scrum is appreciably better than the Brumbies scrum. The backs and loose forwards will cancel each other out, so the Crusaders will consider themselves right in with a chance.'
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