The Boks faded in the second half to slump to a 22-17 defeat by the British & Irish Lions on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS picks and rates some of the top performers amid a disappointing result.
Disappointment will understandably be the overriding sentiment for many after this Springbok defeat, especially considering a dream first half degenerated into a nightmare final 40 minutes.
However, we look beyond the end result to see who were some of the standout performers.
Pieter-Steph du Toit 7
There’s not a lot Du Toit can’t do. His athleticism is second to none, most aptly demonstrated early in the second half when he recovered a loose pass, broke away, passed to Makazole Mapimpi and then followed up the kick ahead. He’s a machine on defence and undoubtedly remains the Boks’ MVP, although he is docked a point for the penalty conceded late in the game.
Ox Nche 6
In some ways this actually felt like Nche’s real Bok debut. A one-off Test against Wales in 2018 and a recent warm-up game against Georgia were nothing by comparison to this. And, in that context, Nche can be almightily proud of his efforts, having fired at scrum time and contributed as a ball-carrier. He was replaced at half time, and in fact his presence was missed after that.
Siya Kolisi 6
A tireless effort from the Bok captain. In the context of his recent period of inactivity due to a positive Covid-19 test, and considering there were so many questions over his form before then, this was a real gutsy performance.
Trevor Nyakane 6
Credit has to be given to the starting front rowers, and Nyakane was superb in the first half. Concerns over any scrumming inconsistency evaporated into the Cape Town night sky in the first half, while he won a superb penalty when he got over the ball at the breakdown.
Faf de Klerk 6
Like many Springboks, his influence faded in the second half, but it was his astute left boot that made him one of the standouts in the opening stanza. As the Boks lost their way in terms of their physical dominance, so De Klerk battled to make his presence felt, but he remains integral to the cause if the hosts are to mount a comeback in the final two Tests.
Best of the Lions pride: Both Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje were sensational for the Lions. Capable of mixing it up in both the tight and the loose, they are the players who epitomise what the 2021 Lions are all about – fearless, athletic and highly mobile.