Rugby Championship

Bok ratings: Best to look away

2015-08-08 22:00
Lood de Jager (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - If Lood de Jager and Schalk Burger could hold their heads reasonably high after Saturday’s Springbok horror show, it only summed up the mounting confusion over how to assemble a best possible XV at the fast-approaching World Cup.

De Jager and Burger were arguably the two most defiant figures in a Bok team otherwise humiliated by Argentina as they suffered a 37-25 first-time loss to those foes at Kings Park to gallingly take ownership of the Castle Rugby Championship wooden spoon.

But there was an unfortunate irony in that: remember that the lanky De Jager is supposedly only filling in at No 5 lock for injured veteran Victor Matfield, whilst Burger has been covering No 8 as the Boks wait anxiously to see whether Duane Vermeulen will similarly be fit for RWC 2015.

At a time of year when clarity should be emerging over which players best fit the starting berths for big matches at the keynote tournament, coach Heyneke Meyer’s plans only seem to be slipping into a fog, as the performance card below should bear out ...

Here’s how I rated the Boks out of 10 in Durban:

Willie le Roux: 5.5

Just about acceptable, based on moments of attacking magic, including sublime long-range try. Misdirected, no-look passes and general eccentricity still irk, and he lacked a bit of aggression in defence.

Jesse Kriel: 4.5

Experimental move to right wing ... which bombed. Never settled, with some serious positional issues at times when Pumas ran hard at Boks. One or two ropey passes as well, though good hand in Le Roux’s try.

Jean de Villiers: 5

Got through full game, and that was mini-triumph though the skipper may not view it that way after this result. One or two deft touches and breaks, and did try often to engage/challenge maverick referee Romain Poite. Long way to go, and so little time, though ...

Damian de Allende: 6

Mostly kept defensive composure on taxing evening, plus good leg-drive, and well-weighted long pass for final Bok try. Bet he didn’t expect to see out game at flank!

Bryan Habana: 5.5

Few opportunities to get to full pace, but aerially committed and not much got past him. Rewarded with try two minutes from time.

Handre Pollard: 4

Ghosted through the odd gap ... though sadly a game to forget otherwise. Bungled two restart kicks, missed touch with penalty, and threw one horrible forward pass.  

Ruan Pienaar: 4

Promise shown at times against Wallabies and All Blacks rather fizzled here. Too predictable and unexciting. Penalised once for offside.

Schalk Burger: 6.5

One near-certainty even on sickly days for Boks is that Burger will put his body on the line. Did so once again, even as he received a cynical hit or two, and tackled industriously.

Marcell Coetzee: 5

Missed a tackle early on for Argentina’s first try, and that set tone for unusually off-colour performance. Later limped awkwardly off ...a worry as RWC looms.

Heinrich Brussow: 5.5

Still a long way short of the Tri-Nations demon of 2009. Some defensive lapses, but did turn over one or two balls at breakdown.  

Lood de Jager: 7

Most constructive and fiery Bok player. Seems to go from strength to strength. Powerful surge and intelligent reach for try, and very reliable at lineout.  

Eben Etzebeth: 4.5

Perhaps some energy was sapped in retreating scrum, but this was one of the big enforcer’s most innocuous Test matches, including awful missed tackle which cost seven points. One lineout poach, and did use plenty of muscle to help his partner over the try-line.

Vincent Koch: 3

Were those sore ribs impeding him? Whatever the truth on that score, scrum-time nightmare for the rookie at the hands of merciless Marcos Ayerza. Gave away a stream of first-half penalties. Never re-emerged from tunnel for second half. 

Bismarck du Plessis: 4.5

Tried to light Bok fire before halftime, when they were already well behind, with some fierce drives and staunch hold-up tackles. But his game worsened after break, with one wretched overthrow at attacking lineout and a dropped pass.

Tendai Mtawarira: 4.5

Alll you can say in his defence is that Bok scrum looked creakier on tighthead side than his. Otherwise, though, precious few opportunities for trademark “Beeeast” chant at home ground.

Standout substitute:

Trevor Nyakane: 6  

Cobus Reinach and Siya Kolisi were busy, too, but the loosehead prop replacement looked the most accomplished of the Bok front-rowers from a scrummaging point of view on a grim day in that area.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


Read more on:    springboks  |  rugby championship  |  rugby

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