Cape Town – Former national coach Nick Mallett says the referee made a wrong decision in the dying moments of the Twickenham Test but noted that the Springboks should have put England away earlier in the game.
A big talking point following England’s 12-11 win was Australian referee Angus Gardner’s decision to not award the Springboks a penalty right at the death when it appeared as though England flyhalf Owen Farrell had executed a dangerous tackle on Springbok replacement Andre Esterhuizen.
Speaking in the SuperSport studio after the Test on Saturday, Mallett said the referee made more than one mistake in the final move.
“The England defenders never got behind the last man’s feet (during the last play of the game) so that is offside, that is the touch judge (error). There is also the possibility of a high tackle which was not called there. And then what was adjudicated not to be a shoulder charge by (Owen) Farrell.
“I think it is the sort of decision that goes to the home team because they are leading. That looks to me like a shoulder charge to the upper body and he (Gardner) says he (Farrell) wraps that right arm. In the studio, I would not say that was the fair decision,” Mallett said.
But Mallett added that the Springboks had several opportunities earlier in the game to seal a victory.
“I think every single viewer here realises that we shouldn’t rest too much on that endpoint because we still had to kick it over and unfortunately (Handre) Pollard missed one from in front of the poles. That was an opportunity. Four lineouts close to their line was an opportunity and we had a number of handling errors as well. I think we can look at ourselves as well as the referee today.
“We managed to get ourselves in positions which we like, as South African teams. We put pressure on, forced penalties and managed to kick it into the 5m area to bring our driving maul into play. They had a yellow card, we were in the perfect position to take a ball at the back of a lineout. (Maro) Itoje was going up, but on three occasions (Malcolm) Marx pushed his throw – on four in fact. I think we can really say – a little bit like Western Province in the Currie Cup – if you don’t win your own lineout ball, you don’t deserve to win.
“It is just so disappointing. There is enough good play from the Boks today to have buried England in the first half. Once you do that, they are forced to play catch-up rugby and we thrive off teams that play from too deep. Our defence is good, we can get turnovers and score off their mistakes. It was not taking opportunities in the first half that killed us in this game.”