SARugbymag.co.za editor SIMON BORCHARDT rates the Springbok players out of 10 after their famous win against the All Blacks in Wellington.
The Boks scored five tries to beat the All Blacks 36-34 on Saturday despite having just 25% of the possession and 21% of the territory. As a result, they were forced to make 235 tackles (while missing 39) compared to just 61 from the hosts (missing 12).
That defensive effort, combined with their passion and physicality, resulted in one of the greatest Bok wins, and one of rugby’s biggest upsets, when you consider the visitors came into the match ranked No 7 in the world.
15. Willie le Roux – 7
After two poor performances against Argentina and Australia, Le Roux started the Wellington Test by losing the ball in the tackle. But he quickly bounced back, giving the try-scoring pass for Aphiwe Dyantyi’s first try. It was Le Roux’s chip kick that led to Jordie Barrett’s ill-judged quick throw-in that allowed the Bok fullback to pick up the loose ball and score a try. Le Roux was yellow-carded in the 67th minute for a cynical offside at a ruck, but the All Blacks were only able to score five points while he was off.
14. Jesse Kriel – 6
Kriel knocked on when trying to collect an All Blacks restart that didn’t go 10m, came off his wing which helped Rieko Ioane to score his first try, and missed five of his 15 tackle attempts. Lukhanyo Am’s injury saw Kriel move to outside centre at half-time, where he was more comfortable.
13. Lukhanyo Am – 6
Am was partly to blame for the defensive lapse that resulted in Jordie Barrett’s try but he had just received treatment on the sideline, which meant he got back into the Bok backline late. He made all six of his tackles, and just one run with ball in hand, before an injury ended his night after 40 minutes.
12. Damian de Allende – 6
De Allende was strong with ball in hand, while making eight tackles and missing two. He was forced off the field through injury after 48 minutes.
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi – 8
Dyantyi enhanced his reputation with another impressive display. He finished off a good Bok attack to score his first try and stepped back inside past Beauden Barrett to get his second. It was also Dyantyi who forced Damian McKenzie to knock on in the 83rd minute.
10. Handré Pollard – 7
Pollard made a poor start to the match when his kick-off rolled over the deadline. He made 11 tackles, several of which were positive hits, but missed seven on the night. Pollard was in good goal-kicking form, converting four of his side’s five tries and adding a penalty. He moved to inside centre in the 48th minute when Elton Jantjies came on and the two did well as a 10-12 combination.
9. Faf de Klerk – 6
De Klerk was under pressure after a poor performance in Brisbane last weekend. His distribution was good in Wellington, but his kicking sometimes lacked accuracy and he missed five of his 14 tackle attempts. He did play the full 80 minutes, so he did enough to earn the backing of coach Rassie Erasmus.
8. Warren Whiteley – 7
Whiteley was anonymous early on, but got better as the game progressed. He made just four runs, and completed 20 tackles (including a late try-saving effort on TJ Perenara), while missing just one. He needs to make more dominant tackles, though.
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit – 8
The flank made five carries, but it was on defence where he made the biggest impact, with 24 tackles, the joint-most with Franco Mostert. Du Toit’s tears after the match showed how much the win meant to him as well as how much effort he had put into it.
6. Siya Kolisi – 6
The Bok captain had a quiet game with ball in hand, although he did make the carry that led to Dyantyi’s first try. He also completed 16 of his 19 tackle attempts before being replaced in the 66th minute. Doubts remain, though, about whether openside flank is his best position, and whether he and Whiteley should be in the same loose trio.
5. Franco Mostert – 7
Mostert secured two of the Boks’ lineouts, including the one that led to Malcolm Marx’s driving-maul try. He also made 24 tackles (while missing just two) and four carries.
4. Eben Etzebeth – 7
In his 50 minutes on the field, Etzebeth secured three of the Boks’ lineouts, made three ball-carries and 11 tackles (missing one). The lock is not yet back to his best having recently returned from a long injury lay-off, but he’s getting there.
3. Frans Malherbe – 7
Malherbe won’t forget his run on the 54-minute mark after taking a flat pass from Jantjies, which saw him gain 15m. He also made 12 tackles, missing just one, and scrummed well.
2. Malcolm Marx – 7
Marx scored a try from a lineout driving maul, while the Boks won five of his six lineout throws. He made four runs and seven tackles (missing two), before being substituted in the 69th minute.
1. Steven Kitshoff – 8
Kitshoff produced a superb performance in just his fourth start in 31 Tests. He scrummed well, carried the ball strongly and made 15 tackles without missing one, before being substituted in the 66th minute.
16. Bongi Mbonambi – 6
Replaced Marx in the 69th minute and did what was required of him during the late All Blacks’ onslaught, making six tackles.
17. Beast Mtawarira – 6
Replaced Kitshoff in the 66th minute to make just his 11th appearance as a substitute in his 105th Test. He only got his hands on the ball once, but made five tackles, while missing two. Solid at scrum time.
18. Wilco Louw – 6
Also solid at the set piece during his 15 minutes on the field. He didn’t touch the ball, but made 10 of the 11 tackles he was required to make.
19. RG Snyman – 7
Replaced Etzebeth in the 50th minute and took one of the Bok lineout balls. He had just one carry but made all seven of his tackles.
20. Francois Louw – 6
Louw, who replaced Kolisi in the 66th minute, made a crucial knock-on in the 77th minute that allowed the All Blacks to surge back into the Bok 22 and almost snatch victory. He did make 10 tackles, though, missing just one.
21. Ross Cronjé – n/a
22. Elton Jantjies – 7
Jantjies came on at flyhalf in the 48th minute with Pollard shifting to 12. He put Frans Malherbe into a gap with a great short pass and had a hand in Dyantyi’s second try.
23. Cheslin Kolbe – 6
The replacement wing scored an interception try with his first touch of the ball at the start of the second half, reading the pass from Anton Lienert-Brown to perfection. His poor tackle attempt allowed Rieko Ioane to score in the corner at the other end soon after, but Kolbe did stop the All Blacks wing in his tracks in the same area of the field later on.