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Former Bok coach critical of 'home-ground' decisions

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Sunday, June 23, 2019    Getty Images

Mallett also told supersport.com that it was safe to say no South African side deserved to be in the semifinals on the basis of their overall performances throughout the season.

But he said he felt sorry for the Bulls, who lost 28-35, especially in relation to some of the refereeing decisions in the second half of the Wellington game.

Home-ground advantage had been responsible for pressure on Australian referee Nic Berry to make certain calls, he said.

"For instance, in the second half Marco van Staden was within his right to steal that ball because he was on his feet and supporting his own body weight. Then you get Ardie Savea doing exactly the same thing. They were equivalent steals, but van Staden got penalised and the Hurricanes got three points as a result.

"Savea got the benefit of the steal and the Hurricanes got the release they needed under pressure," he said.

Mallett was also critical of a no-arms tackle by replacement hooker Asafo Aumua.

"Instead, his shoulder hits the neck of Simphiwe Matanzima, who then knocks the ball on and suddenly the Hurricanes have an attacking opportunity. But the TMO, who happens to be a home TMO, will never come back to that situation.

"And this is important because it was a no-arms shoulder charge, and it not only caused Matanzima to drop the ball, it was high around the neck area and reckless.

"If that was brought to the attention of the referee by the TMO, the referee would have had to give – at a minimum – a yellow card and if there was proof he used force, which he did, that could have been a red card," he said.

Mallett said in future the complete officiating panel needed to be neutral and while that would be expensive to achieve it would give the competition more integrity.

However, Mallett said the Bulls effort offered some light at the end of the tunnel for South Africa.

"I don't think their rotation was correct this year, but this performance and, in fact, their last four performances, had been excellent. The Bulls have varied their game and managed to break down defences.

"They've added a variety to their attack. There's been a philosophy of trying to pass the ball in contact, using width and keeping width in attack, not playing off one-off runners and a lot of effective offensive kicking from Handre Pollard

"We've seen Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel and RG Snyman perform well this season and Pollard's form going into the Rugby Championship and World Cup, has also been really good.

"So I think the good news story of this season, if there is one in South African rugby, is the way the Bulls have played. It looked like they were down and out on their New Zealand tour but they managed a couple of draws and then gave the Lions a good hiding which gave them confidence coming into this quarterfinal," he said.