Cape Town - The Springboks’ win over the Wallabies was a relief, but it was far from a complete performance, former coach Nick Mallett has said.
Mallett was commenting in the SuperSport studio after South Africa’s 18-10 win at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“The whole squad is going to be so relieved with this win after the three away losses. Going into the game against New Zealand next week with a win is far better than going in with a narrow loss,” Mallett said.
“We played well in patches and took our opportunities well. The Boks made 99 tackles and missed 21, so I think it was our individual skills at the breakdown and the ability to the turn the ball over that gave us this win. We had Francois Hougaard, (Juan) De Jongh and Steven Kitshoff, all getting over the ball efficiently and Adriaan Strauss and Francois Louw making great steals.
“What we saw today was literally a desperate team that was going for the win.”
Flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked all of South Africa’s points, but Mallett highlighted the need to gain more territorial dominance.
“If you have Morne Steyn in the side, you presumably also want to have territorial dominance, which we didn’t have today. While he did kick the penalties and got a couple of drop goals, we spent 64% of this game in our own half and that’s pretty dangerous. If you are playing with a flyhalf who is not well known for his attacking abilities and still spend 64% in your half, it doesn’t give too many opportunities to score tries. Looking at the game, when did we ever look like scoring a try? Not once. We just took our penalties and drop goals, but we were never in a situation to score a try.”
Mallett, though, did laud the Springbok defence.
“But there was some good, determined scramble defence from South Africa to turn the ball over in the 22. If we give the same opportunities to the All Blacks next weekend, it’s going to be a very difficult afternoon. I’m very happy with the win. This team desperately needed it. It was what we expected from the team playing in Pretoria, but there are a lot of things we can still work on.
“In fact, a lot of the pleasure we got out of this game, came from our ability to stem the Australian attack. It was the great play by Juan de Jongh and Lionel Mapoe holding their backline players to effect turnovers, it was Strauss who played by far his best game of the season as captain, it was Louw going so well at the breakdown and Eben Etzebeth relentless tackling. It was on our defensive work that we got a lot of pleasure today.”