Mallett: Sharks gave Boks template to beat All Blacks
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett was impressed by the Sharks’ performance against the Hurricanes in Napier last Friday.
The Sharks, who led by nine points with less then three minutes remaining, suffered a heartbreaking 38-37 loss as the home side scored an 85th minute try.
It was however the manner of the Sharks’ display which stood.
“It was an extraordinary performance by the Sharks, the best by a South African side overseas this year by miles. It was almost a template of how you’d like the Springboks to play,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio over the weekend.
“They started pretty poorly, letting in the Hurricanes’ first two tries, but then they just grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. It was a big defensive effort by the whole team.”
Regarding the areas in which the Sharks excelled, Mallett commented: “The Sharks had used impressive line speed the entire game. They got off the line and were in the Hurricanes’ faces, forced turnover after turnover and just physically dominated.
“But in those last five minutes, they started to stay on the line and wait for the Hurricanes to run at them, to prevent conceding a penalty. That allowed the Hurricanes to hold onto the ball for five minutes and they got three penalties. The ref was very harsh with the first penalty against the Sharks. When you are close to your line, you can expect the referee is going to be hard on you. But the one from 50m out was a tough decision on the Sharks.
“It was just a desperately sad way for them to lose this game. The only time the Hurricanes led, apart from those first 10 minutes, was in the 85th minute when they scored to win the game. It was really heartbreaking. But in the last two games on this tour, the Sharks played fantastically. It showed they can front up against any New Zealand side.”
Mallett also mentioned a few of the Sharks players who impressed him most.
“Jean-Luc du Preez was absolutely magnificent, but so were the entire pack of forwards. And Andre Esterhuizen has been having a really good season. He is breaking the line, off-loading and has got a tremendous physical presence. I thought Curwin Bosch at fullback, with the ability to run the ball back, was outstanding too.”