Cape Town - The Springboks made too many errors in the first 70 minutes of Saturday’s Test against Argentina in Nelspruit, former national team coach Nick Mallett has said.
The Boks clawed their way back from 23-13 down after 68 minutes to eke out a 30-23 win at Mbombela Stadium.
But it was a comedy of errors for large parts during the game.
“Right up until 70 minutes, the Boks were very disappointing,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio after the game. “But had they taken all their opportunities - knocked over a couple of penalties and Lionel Mapoe scored that try - then we might have built that 10-point buffer that would have given us more comfort going into the last 20 minutes.
“No one is going to be more relieved than the Boks. It was slipping away, but they had a good finish to the game with a great try down the blindside. It’s so nice to see Warren Whiteley score in the corner. But there were a couple of embarrassing situations. The kick straight into Adriaan Strauss's head by Elton Jantjies and Whiteley trying to kick the ball out and having to catch his own up and under. It was a comedy of errors, but we are all happy with the win.
“Argentina’s captain, Agustín Creevy, said they gave away too many penalties. Well, the penalty count was 11 to nine which was pretty even. Both teams made similar mistakes. The handling errors were 18 to 19 and missed tackles were 19 to 18. It wasn’t a game that rose to any great heights mainly because of the poor handling, and perhaps the weather.”
Mallett did however note a few positives that the Boks can take out of the encounter.
“Faf de Klerk was outstanding. His natural run and late switch with Johan Goosen was wonderfully done and he also earned us that scrum in the first place by ferociously getting in on their scrumhalf and forcing him to knock the ball on," he said.
“Pieter-Steph du Toit coming on the field made a big difference. Just his tap tackle on Juan Martín Hernández got us that penalty to get back at 23-23. The two of them and Jaco Kriel brought a lot of urgency into the team.
“Oupa Mohoje’s defence was outstanding. He was all over the field and often made good, impactful tackles and he was good in the lineouts. It was interesting because there was talk of getting Du Toit on at blindside flank, but instead they took Lood de Jager off and kept Mohoje on, which was thoroughly deserved.
“We’ve had a go at Damian de Allende for quite a long time for just taking the ball into contact. What was encouraging today was the quick hands by Damian, which makes such a big difference. Suddenly Mapoe looked a much better player and the attack had a bit more width. That was because the ball was moved through the hands better, especially in the first half.”