Cape Town - Former national team coach Nick Mallett was impressed by the Springboks’ series-clinching win over France in Durban at the weekend.
The hosts’ comprehensive 37-15 win saw them take an unassailable 2-0 series lead heading into this Saturday’s final Test in Johannesburg.
“This was a really outstanding performance by the Boks against a team that was vastly strengthened. It was a French team that was very committed and came out to score a try early on,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
“What impressed me tremendously was the work-rate of every one of the Boks close to the ball. When a tackle was made, the player got back to his feet and in position to help his mates. And if they were in a situation where they could turn the ball over, they did. In the first half, Jan Serfontein, Jean-Luc du Preez, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe and Siya Kolisi all won penalties. That’s five penalties won by different players in one half and just shows how hard they are working for each other.”
Mallett also lauded the Springboks’ defensive effort, especially in the second half where there was a period that they held off 27 consecutive phases by the French on their own tryline.
“(sic) For 20 minutes in that second half when the French had 25 phases, it was quite extraordinary that they didn’t score. They kept on losing the brutal forward battle by going direct. Our defence was outstanding. The Springboks never lost the outside channel. We made 169 tackles to 58 by France and I reckon 100 of our tackles were made in those 20 minutes when we were defending on our own line. The Boks were good on defence and managed to scored four tries. It’s a good turnaround for this team. Things are looking up for the Boks.”
South Africa’s 37-14 win in the first Test in Pretoria saw them move from No 7 to No 5 in the World Rugby rankings and Mallett believes the team can quickly surge up to No 2.
“The backbone of this team has been the Lions players and we play in Johannesburg next weekend. I think it’s fantastic that Lions and Bok captain Warren Whiteley can take his team to his home ground in search of a 3-0 series win. Imagine the confidence we’ll then take into the Rugby Championship. I mean, Scotland are fifth in the rankings at the moment and with these sort of performances we can very quickly get back to No 2 in the world.”