Eben Etzebeth and Makazole Mapimpi mixed power and speed to help the Springboks subdue Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. ZELIM NEL rates some of the key performers.
The Enforcer: 10
South Africa’s most experienced player, Eben Etzebeth, played with the engine of a youngster trying to fire in his first Test. The giant lock made eight tackles and 12 carries, but it was the quality of his contributions more than the quantity that would have inspired his pack mates to keep pace with a man on a mission. Etzebeth charged off nine, somehow folding his 2.03-metre frame to a lower run-height that gave him access to the gainline, and still had the legs to blitz Finn Russell for 80 minutes.
The Finisher: 9
The ball doesn’t dot itself down in goal and Makazole Mapimpi left no stone unturned in the search for opportunities, his endeavours rewarded by two tries that showcased his speed. The 31-year-old, who appears to carry with more edge and aggression in each Test, has now scored 19 tries in 24 matches.
Scrum Hogs: 9
The Bok scrum continues to assert itself as the most ferocious set piece in world rugby today. Bongi Mbonambi couldn’t contain his excitement when the match started with a Finn Russell knock-on that gave him an opportunity to launch Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane into the reeling Scotland scrum, rewarded by a penalty.
Ball Hawks: 8
Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Damian de Allende, Steven Kitshoff and Malcolm Marx combined to cancel Scotland’s phase play and convert defence into attack with aplomb. It was Smith’s steal that led to Mapimpi’s second try.
Special mentions: 8
Franco Mostert got through much of the unseen dirty work at the bottom of the trenches and then got up to make a crucial lineout steal just when Scotland threatened to take control of the game.
The complementary midfield combination of De Allende and Lukhanyo Am continued to be the secret to turning South Africa’s physical dominance into tactical ascendancy, with the No 12 seemingly able to go forward in any circumstance, while time seems to slow down for Am, who makes critical reads on defence and turnover attack in a split-second.
Elton Jantjies made a good go of taking the ball flat to the line and distributed with characteristic ease, but he was found wanting in line defence.
Hard lines: 6
Vincent Koch made up for it by snagging a few errant Scotland lineout feeds, but the reserve tighthead leaked three penalties at key moments.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies continues to fight through a slump in form, his trademark clutch play having forsaken him in the past two Tests.
And Willie le Roux is playing like a man trying to find his feet at fullback, a string of basic errors leading to a hesitant, unconvincing performance.