Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has lauded
the impact several Lions players made in the Springboks’ 32-26 win over Ireland
in Johannesburg at the weekend.
The Boks overturned a 26-10 deficit in the final 20 minutes
to sneak a win end level the three-Test series at 1-all.
“Sport is an amazing thing. Here we are talking afterwards
and very happy that the Springboks won. But remember what we were saying after
55 minutes? We were saying this is the most depressing game we’ve watched and
couldn’t believe how many mistakes the guys made in the first half,” Mallett
said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
Coach Allister Coetzee made several substitutions in the
second half and several Lions players impressed on their home ground.
“That first half was dreadful and the next 15 minutes after
the break. We said why aren’t we scoring when we need to get into the game
immediately? Then Warren Whiteley, Ruan Combrinck, Franco Mostert and Julian
Redelinghuys came on and there was a noticeable change in terms of tempo to the
Bok game. Suddenly Faf de Klerk looked at ease on the ball, Elton Jantjies
looked more confident and, more importantly, suddenly Willie le Roux found more
space. That was the reason we won,” continued Mallett.
“Let's not say it was a great second half either because
after 60 minutes we were down 26-10. So, it was a great last 20 minutes and we
can perhaps thank the altitude. There’s no doubt the Irish fell off a few
tackles at the end of that game, which didn’t happen at Newlands or during the
first hour of this game. Ireland were pretty much out on their feet at the end
of the game.”
According to Mallett, Saturday’s Test proved that form
players in Super Rugby should be awarded with Bok call-ups.
“What this victory shows is that form does count. Whiteley
has been the form No 8 in Super Rugby and Combrinck the form wing and as soon
as they came on, we had a bit of confidence in our game and it made a massive
difference to this team. Combrinck was outstanding. The fact that he only
played 40 minutes and got man-of-the-match shows what an impact he had on
turning the Springbok performance around.
“My view is quite simple. There are a number of very good
Lions players. Mostert came on and his latch-and-drive on Pieter-Steph du Toit
helped the latter drive through two players for a try. I think Jaco Kriel
should be given the same opportunity and quite frankly I think Malcolm Marx is
also someone who should come into the mix. The Lions are playing with
confidence, a lot of physicality and a lot of skill.”