South Africa A claimed a morale-boosting 17-13 win over the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday. CRAIG LEWIS picks and rates some of the top SA performers.
Lukhanyo Am 9
The stand-in captain on Wednesday produced a performance that was pure class. His defensive work is what really sets the centre apart, and the manner in which he reads the game seems to come so naturally. Am ran a lovely support line to score the standout try in this game, but it’s his all-round work rate that has made him the Springboks’ incumbent No 13.
Cheslin Kolbe 9
Once again it was the man with the magic feet who added another piece of solo brilliance to his career highlights reel. On this occasion, it was the moment of the match as he received the ball in his own half, danced between Chris Harris and a flailing Louis Rees-Zammit, and then popped a pass mid-tackle for Lukhanyo Am to score.
While Kolbe will always offer these threats on attack, his speed makes him a key member of the Bok defensive system, and even if he’s bounced in a tackle it often doesn’t take away from the fact he has successfully disrupted the opposition by cutting down their time and space, while forcing the ball-carrier back in-field. All in all, this was a hit-out that would have served him extremely well after recently rejoining the Boks.
Cheslin Kolbe! That’s it. That’s the tweet! pic.twitter.com/J68xhWEJiX
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) July 14, 2021
Willie le Roux 7
He won’t steal the headlines, but there can be no denying that Le Roux is one of the most integral conductors of the South African team. It’s for this reason that the injury he suffered in the second half will be of particular concern just over a week away from the first Test. Le Roux marshals the Boks’ backline proceedings with plenty of unseen work, while his cover from fullback and well-used left boot makes him the sort of player whom the Boks can ill-afford to lose to injury.
Joseph Dweba 7
It was interesting to see Dweba substituted just before half time, but you sense he may have emptied his tank in those 38 minutes. With his burly frame and long hair, the powerful hooker looks like the sort of bloke who would be a fan favourite in WWE. Yet, he is a formidable rugby player and offered enough to suggest the Boks wouldn’t lose all that much if he had to step in for Malcolm Marx or Bongi Mbonambi if the need arose.
Sbu Nkosi 8
The powerful wing again proved that there is very little that separates him from the first-choice starters. With pace, strength and a lethal step, he is a real threat. When you add size, immense work rate and a strong defence to that list of attributes you end up with a player who is more than capable of stepping in during the Test series if need be.