Cape Town - Former national coach Nick Mallett says second half substitutions played a key role in helping the Springboks beat France in Paris over the weekend.
An 85th-minute try from replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi saw the Boks snatch a 29-26 victory at the Stade de France.
The French had led 23-9 early in the second half before the visitors staged a comeback.
“At half-time, we were saying we had hardly had an attacking opportunity. It meandered along in that second half, going nowhere. I thought the replacements, when they came on, made a real difference. (Elton) Jantjies at 10 gave us a much better attacking option. We were playing catch-up rugby but he is the right player to do that. (Francois) Louw and Bongi were fantastic. RG Snyman had a very good game as well. The impact of the subs, they were all important,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
Mallett also praised Mbonambi’s lineout throwing, with the hooker on target on four occasions in the build-up to his match-winning try.
“Well done to Bongi. Four good lineouts. They were all those long lineouts which are difficult to take and a final great driving maul try.”
But Mallett did warn that it was far from a complete performance by the South Africans as he highlighted below-par efforts by a few Boks.
“It was not a great quality game and lots of very poor kicking from the Boks, really poor. Faf (de Klerk) and Willie (le Roux) did not have good games today. I didn’t think Faf, in particular, had very inaccurate kicking.
“I didn’t think Siya (Kolisi) had his best game. Unfortunately, it was a strange first half where we never got into the game, we never got the ball into situations where he could have those line breaks. The physicality of the French pack took Siya out of the game. It was the same with (Warren) Whiteley, both were not really big factors in this game.
“As we got RG on (at lock), we got Pieter-Steph (du Toit) to (blindside) flank and Louw (to openside)... there was a lot of physicality. Our ability to contest the breakdown and to win the tight battles improved.”