Mallett: Lions bullied Stormers
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says the Lions made a massive statement in their Super Rugby win over the Stormers on the weekend.
The men from Johannesburg claimed a 29-16 win to bag their first ever Super Rugby win over the Stormers at Newlands.
They outscored their opponents by four tries to one to also bag a bonus point victory and surge to the top of the South African group.
“'It was a real statement by the Lions. With that performance they effectively told the Stormers, 'You’re not No 1 yet. We’re still the best side in South Africa,'" Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
“The way the Lions played once they got out of their half and away from danger, was impressive. They didn’t loosen the game up, which would’ve played into the Stormers’ hands. Now the Lions had a week off last weekend and perhaps there was a psychological let-down for the Stormers after that big win over the Chiefs. But we can take nothing away from this Lions side that came to Cape Town and shut the Stormers out to collect maximum log points.”
Mallett also lauded the Lions' defensive effort.
“That period after half-time when the Lions held the Stormers out from the 42nd minute to the 52nd was heroic. Every single Lions player was engaged in keeping their body position low and getting off the line to stop a fairly inoffensive attack from the Stormers, who persisted with pick and go's without realising they’re not physically big enough to drive over the line.
“The Lions’ defence was good. What they did well was letting the initial tackler and one other player contest the ruck and then the others fan out quickly. Their spacing and alignment were excellent and the understanding of when the ball-carrier is going to hit the line or not was superb. Look at how they held SP Marais up throughout the game and made three turnovers on him. He’s been allowed to off-load throughout the season so far, but against the Lions he didn’t know how to offload or who to pass to. At one point, the Lions drove the Stormers back about 30m just with consistent positive tackles.”
According to Mallett, the Lions “bullied” the Stormers.
“The Lions’ pack did such an outstanding job. They all got stuck in. They got the ball on the front foot, dominated the collisions and played - however unusual for the Lions - a tight, well-organised, structured game and they pulled off a win. To go and win away at Newlands against the Stormers, who had just beaten the Chiefs, is an extraordinary performance.
"The one thing we’ve been very complimentary of is the Stormers’ tight five. They destroyed the Bulls and got stuck into the Chiefs as well. And when they were up against it, the Stormers turned to the pack to get back the ascendancy. So there was an impression that they would create problems again. But the Lions bullied them in this match."