Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has lauded the impact several Lions players made in the Springboks’ 32-26 win over Ireland in Johannesburg at the weekend.
The Boks overturned a 26-10 deficit in the final 20 minutes to sneak a win end level the three-Test series at 1-all.
“Sport is an amazing thing. Here we are talking afterwards and very happy that the Springboks won. But remember what we were saying after 55 minutes? We were saying this is the most depressing game we’ve watched and couldn’t believe how many mistakes the guys made in the first half,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
Coach Allister Coetzee made several substitutions in the second half and several Lions players impressed on their home ground.
“That first half was dreadful and the next 15 minutes after the break. We said why aren’t we scoring when we need to get into the game immediately? Then Warren Whiteley, Ruan Combrinck, Franco Mostert and Julian Redelinghuys came on and there was a noticeable change in terms of tempo to the Bok game. Suddenly Faf de Klerk looked at ease on the ball, Elton Jantjies looked more confident and, more importantly, suddenly Willie le Roux found more space. That was the reason we won,” continued Mallett.
“Let's not say it was a great second half either because after 60 minutes we were down 26-10. So, it was a great last 20 minutes and we can perhaps thank the altitude. There’s no doubt the Irish fell off a few tackles at the end of that game, which didn’t happen at Newlands or during the first hour of this game. Ireland were pretty much out on their feet at the end of the game.”
According to Mallett, Saturday’s Test proved that form players in Super Rugby should be awarded with Bok call-ups.
“What this victory shows is that form does count. Whiteley has been the form No 8 in Super Rugby and Combrinck the form wing and as soon as they came on, we had a bit of confidence in our game and it made a massive difference to this team. Combrinck was outstanding. The fact that he only played 40 minutes and got man-of-the-match shows what an impact he had on turning the Springbok performance around.
“My view is quite simple. There are a number of very good Lions players. Mostert came on and his latch-and-drive on Pieter-Steph du Toit helped the latter drive through two players for a try. I think Jaco Kriel should be given the same opportunity and quite frankly I think Malcolm Marx is also someone who should come into the mix. The Lions are playing with confidence, a lot of physicality and a lot of skill.”