Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has heaped praise on the Lions following their come-from-behind Super Rugby semi-final win over the Hurricanes in Johannesburg at the weekend.
The Lions overturned a 22-3 deficit to eventually run out comfortably 44-29 winners at Ellis Park.
“What was really fantastic about this game was that the Lions managed to win it in the second half by playing the sort of rugby that we were trying to get them to play before the start of the match,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
“They really dominated the driving maul, their forwards got across the advantage line. They stopped making the handling errors they had made in the first half, and by being patient with the ball in hand and attacking the press defence flat, without ceding a yard backwards, they managed to get penalties and then kicked for the corner and started scoring tries from those driving mauls. It just sucked all the fight out of this Hurricanes side that had really benefited from a number of mistakes the Lions made in the first half.”
Relentless pressure from the Lions forced the Hurricanes into errors, Mallett said.
“Momentum shifts in a game are really interesting. Suddenly in the second half it was one-way traffic for the Lions. They put pressure on the Hurricanes, who started to make all the mistakes, like trying to play from deep, throwing interception passes and not playing with the same calmness and strength on defence which had forced mistakes from the Lions in the first half.”
The Lions will now host the Crusaders in Saturday’s final at Ellis Park (16:00 kick-off).