Matfield soars highest

Victor Matfield won his battle with Alun Wyn Jones in Nelspruit on Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Jones had a big game for Wales, and ensured that his forwards maintained their intensity at the set pieces and collisions throughout the contest. However, as was the case in the 2009 Test series between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions, Jones was second to Matfield, who remains the pre-eminent No 5 in the game.

Matfield's performance on this occasion was more measured than emphatic. His management of the Bok lineout was excellent, as we have come to expect. He made a big defensive play early in the second half when he tracked back to his own 22 and beat Jones to a loose ball. That turnover stopped Wales' momentum.

Matfield's biggest contribution at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday was as a leader. The Boks were not at their clinical best in this match, but still managed to overturn a big deficit. They did this not once, but twice over the course of the contest, and credit must go to the on-field leadership for ensuring that the team kept its cool.

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Andrew Yates/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli