The Springboks claimed a famous three-point win over the British & Irish Lions in the series-deciding third Test on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS picks and rates some of the top performers.
CHESLIN KOLBE 9
You just knew there was going to be a moment in this series when Kolbe would make his mark. After a quiet first two Tests by his standards, Kolbe’s moment of magic came in a game-changing moment in the second half when he danced his way past two would-be defenders to score the Boks’ solitary try. It was a try that will be played over and over again in highlights reels in a similar fashion to his stunning solo effort in the 2019 World Cup final. Yet, it wasn’t just this one piece of play from Kolbe that stood out. His kick-chase was outstanding, while a heroic tackle on towering Maro Itoje when he had broken free in the 22 was a try-saver.
EBEN ETZEBETH 9
The Boks endured a forgettable first half, but Etzebeth was a colossus. He made tackle after tackle, disrupted the Lions’ lineouts and mauls, and stood tall when the Springboks needed it most. This was a barnstorming display of authority that served as an example of just why Etzebeth will surely go down as one of the Boks’ all-time great locks, and this performance will undoubtedly elevate his status to another level.
SIYA KOLISI 8
Yet another match to remember from the Springbok skipper, backing up his efforts from last weekend when he produced one of his most memorable games in a Bok jersey. This has been a sensational series for Kolisi, who has grown immeasurably as a player and leader. In this decisive third Test, he made a host of tackles and was omnipresent at the breakdown. Yet, the moment that stands out was his crucial turnover just before half time when the Lions were just metres away from the Springbok tryline and looking to extend their lead. Kolisi, take a bow.
MORNE STEYN 8
Of course, these ratings would not be complete without including the one and only Morne Steyn. What a vindication of his selection on the bench this turned out to be. The Springbok coaches had said in the lead-up to this Test that they had opted to pick Steyn because they wanted a man for the big occasion, who knew how to cope with the pressure of such a series-deciding clash. As it turned out, it was all written in the stars as Steyn came on to play an unforgettable role with a couple of match-defining penalties.
LUKHANYO AM 7
Another Bok game, and another standout display from the dynamic centre. He has been the beating heart at the centre of the Springboks’ defensive system, and he delivered yet another clutch performance on one of the grandest stages of all. This has been a series where he has solidified his status as the best outside centre in world rugby, and he is fully deserving off all the plaudits that come his way. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that it was his piece of superb play that set the Springboks away for Kolbe’s try when he retrieved the ball, stepped inside-outside and then fed a pass to Willie le Roux.