Mallett: All Blacks are ‘irritatingly great’

Cape Town - Former national coach Nick Mallett was impressed by the quality of rugby on display in the Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and All Blacks at Newlands this past weekend.

New Zealand held off a ferocious onslaught from South Africa to prevail 25-24 in a highly entertaining encounter at a packed Newlands.

“What a great game of rugby this was. I mean a 50-minute first half is just wonderful stuff. If you can’t be entertained by a game of rugby like that and don’t feel admiration for all those players on the field and the referee - who I thought had a great game - then I don’t know. It was just a wonderful experience,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.

“This Springbok side got off the canvas and produced a magnificent performance. We have to give credit to the All Blacks for playing away from home against a team that is fighting for their lives and yet they still find a way to win. It is incredibly irritating, but they are just a great, great rugby team.”

Mallett said silly individual errors cost the Springboks dearly.

“The game was actually lost by that little pass from Ross Cronje that missed Courtnall Skosan and was intercepted by Rieko Ioane for an 80m run-in. And then obviously Damian de Allende’s late charge on Lima Sopoaga, which cost the Boks three points and a red card. When you look at it, those little details add up and are the difference in the end.”

Mallett also heaped praise on the performance of Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx.

“Just a mention for Malcolm Marx, who did some fantastic work at turnover time, as did Francois Louw. In terms of an 80-minute performance, Marx was absolutely immense. He made four or five turnovers, created scoring opportunities, and with Handre Pollard’s break it was his support play and pass that led to Jean-Luc du Preez’s try. And then Marx scored a try himself from the back of a driving maul and he threw in beautifully in the lineouts.”

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