Elton Jantjies endured a night to forget in the series-ending clash against England, writes CRAIG LEWIS at Newlands.
When the rain began pelting down hours before kick-off in Cape Town, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus could have been forgiven for wondering whether he had made the correct call in handing Jantjies the No 10 jersey for such a wet-weather affair.
When the 27-year-old has performed at the peak of his powers, it has generally been on the hard, dry fields of Ellis Park, but by the time kick-off arrived on Saturday, Newlands had become a soft, slippery and muddy surface.
It didn’t look likely to be the conditions to suit a flyhalf who has never been renowned for his kicking game, and there was a sense of unfortunate inevitability about the manner in which Jantjies failed to assert himself in a match that was calling out for a physical, tactical general at pivot.
Unfortunately, Jantjies’ kicking out of hand left a lot to be desired, while he drew howls of dissent from the crowd when he dropped the ball cold on either side of half-time.
It spoke volumes that there was a big roar of approval from the merciless Newlands crowd when Jantjies was eventually replaced just before the hour mark.
In the lead-up to this clash, Erasmus had insisted that he wanted to learn more about certain players – whether it be in wet or dry conditions – and while he certainly shouldn’t be ready to just discard Jantjies just yet after his 60-minute struggle, the Bok coach will know that there are some clear work-ons.
As a unit, the Boks will also know that they failed to make the necessary adjustments in damp conditions, and not all the blame can fall squarely on the shoulders of Jantjies.
What will have pleased Erasmus more was the vibrant performance of Jesse Kriel, who added some much-needed dynamism at outside centre. He racked up 79m from 11 runs, while finishing off the Boks’ solitary try in fine fashion.
That score was set up by a superb grubber from Warrick Gelant, who it must be said also passed his test at fullback.
The youngster looked calm and composed under the high ball early on, and although he did spill the ball in costly fashion late in the game, by that point he had been moved out to the wing as Willie le Roux came on at fullback.
In all, Gelant completed 55m from eight runs, and Erasmus should have seen enough to know that this is a player with oodles of talent who will surely be able to offer so much more in conditions better suited to his running game.
In terms of the other changes made to the starting lineup for this match, inside centre André Esterhuizen and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle battled to make any real meaningful impression in what was ultimately a forgettable match for the Boks.
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