Bok scrum 'embarrassing'

Nick Mallett (Gallo Images)
Nick Mallett (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Boks' the scrum performance against Argentina at the weekend was a bit embarrassing.

As it happened: Argentina v SA

The Boks sneaked a 33-31 win but was completely overpowered in the scrums, with Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp having a nightmare Test.

Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio after the game and had the following to say:

"There were lots and lots of issues that we need to talk about. The Boks have got real problems with their front row's scrummaging, particularly against the Argentines. They still haven't really settled on a combination with their halfbacks. They started with (Ruan) Pienaar and (Handre) Pollard and swopped it around in the second half. Neither really worked that well. They had real defensive problems out wide and the Argentines managed to score two tries by spreading it wide. They will walk away knowing that they were very lucky to win that game today.

"For their game plan to succeed, they have to have good set pieces. If their one-off runners don't get momentum from the set piece, then they don't get across the advantage line.

"I don't know how many penalties they gave away in scrum situations today, but I know psychologically when a South African pack gets dominated in the scrum as they were today, there's very little testosterone that gets distributed to the other parts of their game. The guys looked a bit shell-shocked. The whole front row were getting humiliated. It became a bit embarrassing, and suddenly the big ball-carriers weren't looking good.

"In South Africa we have this idea of picking loosehead props as ball-carriers, but they've got to be scrummagers first and foremost. Gurthro (Steenkamp) hasn't been first-choice (prop) at Toulouse and here he was really shown up. Jannie (du Plessis) also had a hell of an afternoon. I haven't seen a Springbok scrum go back like that in years."

Mallett did praise skipper Jean de Villiers though for making a brave decision in the second half.

"I thought Jean (de Villiers's) decision to go for the corner was a brave one, and a good one. Obviously they ended up scoring from the driving lineout. That was one area of the game where they started to get better as the game progressed. Their lineout was quite consistent.

"For 60 minutes I thought that the Argentine side played with huge enthusiasm on defence. They really got off the line quickly and smashed the Springboks. They tackled them low and stopped any momentum for their ball-carriers. The Boks don't have a backline that can conjure up tries like either the Australians or the New Zealanders. Once they get countered in their set pieces and with their physical runners, they needed to find a way to get Willie (le Roux) into the game to create opportunities for their try-scorers."

The Springboks' next clash is against Australia in Perth on September 6.
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