Mallett: A great game for SA rugby!
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett was impressed by the quality of rugby on display in Saturday’s South African Super Rugby derby between the Lions and Sharks in Johannesburg.
Despite trailing by 10 points on more than one occasion, the Lions rebounded to claim a 34-29 win in a thrilling encounter.
“This was a great game for South African rugby. We have to be proud of a game of this quality. It was an intense derby and both teams were having a full go at each other,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio after the game.
A late touch down by Springbok flank Jaco Kriel gave the Lions victory after it looked like a draw was on the cards.
“There were massive hits, a lot of competitiveness and niggle, but also some really good skill-play, particularly in the lead-up to that last try the Lions scored,” Mallett continued.
“So often a guy gives a pass too early which allows the defence to shift, but Kwagga Smith delayed that pass until the he drew in the last defender and it was an easy run-in for Jaco Kriel. But there was nothing wrong with the defence in this game. The physicality from both teams was immense and although we had a couple high hits and an insistent TMO, this was a spectacle.”
Mallett felt the officials were was harsh to punish Sharks lock Etienne Oosthuizen on two occasions for making contact around the neck area.
On the first occasion, it led to a disallowed try, while a few minutes later it saw the Sharks reduced to 14 men.
“From a personal point of view, I don’t think the neck roll by Etienne Oosthuizen - that led to the disallowed try for the Sharks - was a violent cleanout,” Mallett said.
“It cost the Sharks 14 points, because their try was reversed, Oosthuizen was yellow-carded and the Lions scored at the other end. The TMO had a huge impact, almost too much, in a game of this nature. I don’t think Oosthuizen deliberately went high.
“The Lions wing Madosh Tambwe went in high on a Sharks player in the second half and the referee said no, it was on the shoulder. In the first half he penalised the Sharks lock for a similar offence and it cost them three points. On very small margins do you win and lose games, and honestly there were some harsh calls on the Sharks.
“I’m not having a go at the referee, it’s just that in a game as close as this, these type of things make a huge difference to the result. There were only five points in it, but there were three points that went one way, but it could easily have gone the way of the Sharks and that would’ve been a six-point difference and leading to a different result.”