Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett was impressed by the manner in which the Cheetahs dispatched the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup semi-finals.
The Cheetahs booked a home final after dismantling the defending champions 55-17 in Bloemfontein at the weekend.
Speaking in the SuperSport studio after the game, Mallett said: “It was an outstanding performance by the Cheetahs. Before the game, I thought it was going to be close, but I got it wrong. The Lions were played off the park with a style of rugby that they used in Super Rugby to dominate other teams.
Mallett was so impressed by the Cheetahs that he compared the way they played to that of the All Blacks.
“Interestingly, the stats don’t really tell the story of this game. The handling errors were the same, the turnovers were pretty similar, the tackles were 80 to the Cheetahs and 70 to the Lions, but it was the ability to find space where the Cheetahs were so much better. Combined with their pressure defence, where they swamped forward and gave the Lions no room, this performance was not dissimilar to what the All Blacks do. The Lions were torn apart today by an exciting and varied attack and a very offensive defence.
“I don’t want to be tough on the Lions, because they are a side that lost a number of players. Franco Mostert, Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan and Andries Ferreira would have strengthened this team, but all of them have either gone overseas or are injured. So this is not disastrous for the Lions, they will have those players back for Super Rugby next year.
“The Cheetahs played what was in front of them and they were absolutely magnificent. They held on to the ball well on attack and played with an improved defence. It was a Free State extravaganza today and the poor old Lions were played off the park. It just shows the importance of continuity.”
The Cheetahs will host the Blue Bulls in Saturday’s final, after the men from Pretoria scored a late try to beat Western Province 36-30 in the second semi-final.