Wales had no answer to a dominant Springbok scrum that tilted the field in favour of South Africa’s ruck raiders. ZELIM NEL rates some of the key performers.
Bok scrum: 10
Between Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi was the point man in a supercharged Bok scrum that demolished the Wales set piece in the first half, and Malcolm Marx carried on that good work with Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch in the second 40. South Africa’s blatant superiority in the shoving contest put territory on tap for the tourists and served as a trump card whenever Wales thought they had a winning hand. Special mention for Eben Etzebeth who drove the mass for 80.
Ruck raiders: 9
An effective defensive tactic that should have set the foundation for a comprehensive Bok win was negated by South Africa’s poor game management. Had the world champions remained patient, stuck to the plan and converted kickable penalties at the end of the first quarter, the truly magnificent work done by the raiders of a lost ruck would have been showcased in this match.
Kwagga Smith produced his best Test performance to date in a chop-and-poach defensive scheme aimed at chasing turnovers, a tactic that featured a host of ball hawks including Lukhanyo Am, Trevor Nyakane and, crucially at the death, Steven Kitshoff.
Old dog: 8
For the second successive Test, circumstances conspired to save the Boks from their selections with Frans Steyn the catalyst. Damian Willemse was a surprise selection to start at fullback, but when he was forced off with a head knock in the first half, 34-year-old Steyn jogged on and turned back the clock to deliver some trademark contributions from the back, not least of which was a long-range penalty.
Magic midfield: 8
Damian de Allende made more tackles in the first half than anyone else on the field, bar Lood de Jager, but still had the lungs to cut the line and feed a support runner. Meanwhile, Lukhanyo Am chipped in with a few big hits and then coolly chipped and collected in the Wales 22 like it was nothing. This midfield partnership continues to grow with every match and stood tall despite the halfbacks struggling to make a positive attacking impact.
Fresh faces: 5
Herschel Jantjies and Jesse Kriel looked like two players who have waited too long for an opportunity to start. The scrumhalf made several kick errors while Kriel struggled in kick receipt.