Springbok vice-captain Victor Matfield has thanked the law-makers for bringing back the maul, which he said remained a strength of the South African game and is likely to be in play again in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions.
Jan de Koning reports for Rugby365:
Speaking in the wake of South Africa’s 26-21 first Test win in Durban at the weekend, Matfield admitted that the maul is a key element in the Bok attack.
And while the Lions will no doubt work on a counter, for the second Test in Pretoria on Saturday, the Boks feel they can still improve on their effort in the first Test.
Two great moments of mauling stood out, which took the Boks 60 metres downfield and resulted in a couple of penalties and a try for flank Heinrich Brüssow.
Matfield said that the Lions may have been “caught cold” because they would not have had any video footage of the Boks to watch – because that was South Africa’s first game of the year.
“I’m sure they will be prepared for our driving [maul] next time, they will have plans to stop it,” Matfield said of the second Test in Pretoria on Saturday.
“But then again, if they try to stop our maul there will be opportunities elsewhere on the field,” Matfield said, adding: “As long as we stay ahead of them we’ll have opportunities to score.”
The veteran Bok lock – with a record 81 Test caps – said that there is no greater feeling for a forward than seeing a try being scored from a maul.
“It [the rolling maul] was missing for a year and a half,” he said about a period in which lawmakers were tinkering with the regulations and allowed teams to collapse the maul.
But that changed just before the start of the Lions tour and the Boks showed they had not lost their touch.
“It is just so great to have the maul back,” Matfield said.
“South African teams have used that [the maul] to their advantage over the last few years and it is so nice to have it back.
“Hopefully we can keep improving on that, because I think it’s going to become a big part of rugby again.”
Matfield felt that while the maul will again play a big part, both teams will take a more expansive approach into the last two Tests of the series.
“It is different playing in Durban,” he said of the opening international. “Once we go up to the Highveld we can really carry ball and we can play with ball in hand.
“I think the intensity will lift so much more and you will see a quicker, fast-paced game from both teams.”
Matfield also felt that South Africa will produce a far more clinical performance in Pretoria.
“There’s a lot of areas for us to work on, we simply made too many mistakes,” he said of the first Test.
“The most important thing is to get into the right areas and we didn’t always do that [in Durban]. When we did, we scored that great try by [captain] John [Smit], so it is important to first get into the right areas.”Tweet