Springbok captain Siya Kolisi led from the front as the world champions rallied to challenge the top-ranked All Blacks in this rivalry’s 100th Test. ZELIM NEL rates South Africa’s key players.
Siya Kolisi, Damian de Allende, Marco van Staden 9
The Bok skipper was tireless and effective in general play, teaming up with Kwagga Smith and Duane Vermeulen to slow down the All Blacks attack. De Allende got stuck in at the breakdown forcing two crucial turnovers and going forward with what little ball came his way.
Van Staden made the most of 15 minutes off the bench to produce his best Test performance. The 110kg fetcher bounced All Blacks skipper Ardie Savea and David Havili in quick succession to spark a breakout and then later ran over replacement tighthead prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe 8
The tall timber in the second row powered a gutsy performance with a high work rate on attack and defence. Of even more value was their contribution to the set pieces where the duo joined laser-sighted hooker Bongi Mbonambi in running a 90% lineout, and the locks successfully poached two balls from the All Blacks. Mbonambi and Malherbe were immovable objects in a solid Bok scrum that refused to retreat.
The bench 8
Franco Mostert fumbled the ball to bring on the final whistle, but this doesn’t negate the set-piece impact he made along with Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch and Van Staden in countering a potent All Blacks list of forward replacements.
Sbu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi 7
The Bok wings were the sting in the tail of a kicking plan aimed at isolating the All Blacks back three with box kicks and bombs. Nkosi and Mapimpi rattled their rivals with the former scoring South Africa’s try when George Bridge faltered, while the latter repeatedly challenged 1.96m Kiwi fullback Jordie Barrett.
Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux 6
It’s no secret the World Cup-winning halfback combination and fullback are struggling for form. De Klerk’s defensive slip led to Codie Taylor’s break and then Will Jordan’s try, and though he successfully fronted the kicking game, the scrumhalf was erratic in attack.
Pollard converted four of five shots at goal but the flyhalf’s kicking out of hand was inconsistent and at times released the pressure exerted on the All Blacks by the Bok defence.
And Le Roux’s slump continued as his work in tidying up at the back failed to repel New Zealand’s territorial probes.