SARugbymag.co.za editor SIMON BORCHARDT rates the Springbok players out of 10 after their last-minute defeat to the All Blacks in Pretoria.
The Boks will still be wondering how they lost 32-30 at Loftus on Saturday, having led 30-13 after 60 minutes.
However, while the result was heartbreaking for the Boks, the team’s performance was highly encouraging, with several standout efforts from individuals.
15. Willie le Roux – 9
Le Roux’s 50th Test was one of his best and deserved to be marked with a victory. He was excellent under the high ball and did well to chase down Faf de Klerk’s box kicks. It was Le Roux’s break that led to Jesse Kriel’s try in the first half and he gave the try-scoring pass to Cheslin Kolbe in the second. He also made a tackle on Rieko Ioane that led to a penalty and three points for Handré Pollard. Le Roux left the field in the 68th minute due to injury, according to coach Rassie Erasmus.
14. Cheslin Kolbe – 7
The highlight of Kolbe’s game came in the 58th minute when he received the ball on the right wing, cut inside past Beauden Barrett, and grounded the ball on the tryline despite the best efforts of two defenders to keep him out. He didn’t get too many other opportunities with ball in hand, though. Kolbe will be pleased with his defence – he made all six of his tackles.
13. Jesse Kriel – 7
Both Bok centres were guilty of running cross-field during the first half, but some straight running from Kriel early in the second saw him burst through a gap between Ryan Cotty and Waisake Naholo to score his 10th Test try. He ended up making 54m from six carries, and was also solid on defence.
12. Damian de Allende – 7
It was good pressure from De Allende that resulted in Sonny Bill Williams losing possession in the 15th minute. But while the Bok centre went on to make six tackles, he did miss three. Like Kriel, De Allende tended to drift across the field in the first half, but he ran straight for the tryline in the 51st minute to score a try under the posts. He was generally strong with ball in hand and got over the advantage line.
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi – 6
Dyantyi has been the find of the season for the Boks, but he wasn’t at his best at Loftus. The wing had few opportunities on attack, the most notable coming in the 32nd minute when he put a foot in touch just before putting De Allende away for what might have otherwise been a try. Dyantyi knocked on from a high ball, was lucky not to be yellow-carded for an intentional knockdown in the 70th minute, and missed three tackles on defence.
10. Handré Pollard – 8
Pollard produced another flawless goal-kicking performance, slotting three penalties and three conversions. He kicked a 55m penalty to open the scoring and a 57m penalty early in the second half. He also kicked well out of hand, especially in the first half when the Boks had 78% of the territory. On defence, he made five tackles and missed one.
9. Faf de Klerk – 8
De Klerk provided his backs with quick service and his box kicking was far more accurate than it had been against the Wallabies in PE, which allowed his teammates to contest for the ball in the air. However, one box kick did go too far and Beauden Barrett was able to counter-attack, with Aaron Smith eventually scoring a try. De Klerk will also be disappointed to have passed the ball to no one, and into touch, when the Boks looked certain to score a try. Overall, though, the scrumhalf was very good, and it was a big loss for the Boks when he had to leave the field in the 73rd minute because of cramp.
8. Francois Louw – 7
Louw knocked on in the 16th minute, but was good ball-carrier for the Boks and completed all four of his tackles. It was a solid performance at No 8 from someone who is more accustomed to playing flank.
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit – 8
Du Toit had another impressive game with ball in hand. Most memorably, he evaded Williams’ tackle during a storming run that saw him brought down just before the tryline. He also made four tackles, without missing one, and secured three of the Boks’ lineout balls.
6. Siya Kolisi – 8
Kolisi impressed as a player and a captain in this match. He bounced off All Blacks replacement prop Tim Perry before putting De Allende away for a try and would finish with 36m from 10 carries. He will, however, be disappointed that his kick behind the defence, shortly after the Boks had forced a turnover, went into the deadball area. Kolisi made 12 tackles, while missing three, and won three lineouts. As skipper, he wisely opted to take the three points when they were on offer.
5. Franco Mostert – 8
Mostert secured four of the Boks’ lineouts and stole one of the All Blacks’. He carried the ball on five occasions, including when he took an inside pass from Damian Willemse late in the game and set off on a strong run. Mostert made all three of his tackles.
4. Eben Etzebeth – 7
Etzebeth conceded a penalty when he came in from the side of a ruck, and lost a lineout on his throw early in the second half. But he had a hand in Kriel’s try and stole an All Blacks lineout in the 55th minute. When Etzebeth left the field in the 63rd minute, he had carried the ball 11 times and made all three of his tackles.
3. Frans Malherbe – 7
Malherbe did his job at scrum time, and while he never carried the ball during the 60 minutes he was on the field, he did complete both of the tackles he was required to make.
2. Malcolm Marx – 7
The Boks lost a couple of lineouts when Marx was on the field, but he did find his jumpers on several other occasions. The hooker made two important turnovers, one in the 27th minute when the Boks were defending their tryline and another early in the second half. He gained 23m from eight carries, but was quiet on defence, making one tackle and missing one. He left the field in the 73rd minute and was somewhat surprisingly named Man of the Match.
1. Steven Kitshoff – 7
Kitshoff played 73 minutes of this match, before being replaced by Beast Mtawarira. He scrummed well, carried the ball six times and had a hand in Kriel’s try. On defence, he made three tackles and missed one.
16. Bongi Mbonambi – no rating
Replaced Marx in the 73rd minute.
17. Beast Mtawarira – no rating
Replaced Kitshoff in the 73rd minute.
18. Vincent Koch – 7
Koch earned his first Test cap since November 2016 when he replaced Malherbe in the 60th minute. He scrummed well, carried the ball on three occasions and made all three of his tackles.
19. RG Snyman – 6
Snyman replaced Etzebeth in the 63rd minute. He was used just once as a lineout jumper, carried the ball twice and wasn’t required to make a tackle.
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe – no rating
Notshe played the last 10 minutes of the match, during which he made two tackles, but he wasn’t on the field long enough to get a rating.
21. Embrose Papier – no rating
Papier replaced De Klerk in the 73rd minute to finally get some game time. He made one pass, one run and two tackles.
22. Elton Jantjies – no rating
Replaced De Allende in the 78th minute.
23. Damian Willemse – 7
Willemse replaced Le Roux in the 66th minute. The 20-year-old made 16m from his two runs and gave a clever inside pass to Mostert. Willemse took a high ball with four minutes to go and completed the only tackle he was required to make.
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix