Rugby Championship

Bok ratings: Kitshoff upstages sickly starters

2016-08-28 07:16
Steven Kitshoff (Gallo)

Cape Town – Allister Coetzee needs to act swiftly and decisively to revive his now-tottering Springboks, victims of a first ever away defeat to Argentina in Salta on Saturday.

They were justly beaten 26-24 by a Pumas side unfortunate to have come off second-best in the opening Castle Rugby Championship clash last weekend, so this latest setback only amplified the sense of fragility around once-proud Bok rugby at present.

On a day when his starting line-up produced a first-half horror show, one ray of light was the zest he got in several cases off the bench, which he raided quite liberally early in the second period.

By the Sport24 performance sheet, flame-haired bench front-ranker Steven Kitshoff, now of Bordeaux, eclipsed all other Boks to top honours, even if he was only ousting a pretty humdrum bunch of colleagues …

Here’s how I rated the Boks out of 10 at Salta:

Johan Goosen: 5.5

Mixed bag last Saturday, mixed bag again. Handling let him down once or twice. Perhaps warrants further chances to settle at No 15; did punch one or two holes. Great heart, late on, to make vital track-back tackle soon after receiving painful blow.

Ruan Combrinck: 4

Looked badly impeded by a knock from early on; really ought to have come off well before 32nd minute.

Lionel Mapoe: 5

Sneaks a 50 percent tally primarily due to one determined, try-saving tackle over the line on Manuel Montero, the lanky Pumas left wing. Otherwise, simply couldn’t impose himself … again. Penalised once for not rolling away.

Damian de Allende: 4.5

Saved from lower rating by a few demonstrations of powerful leg strength -- one nearly led to own try, but he frustratingly lost control of ball inches from line. Creative game still way below last year’s levels, and had shoddy moments in the tackle.

Bryan Habana: 5.5

Among seniors who tried valiantly to light a fire in second half; some determined surges, and tidy finish for 45th-minute try. Alert on cover defence too.

Elton Jantjies: 4  

Still having terrible troubling merging his Lions instincts with Bok template (whatever it’s meant to be). Again too jittery, error-prone and imprecise, including costly, erratic place-kicking. Some early mettle on defence.

Faf de Klerk: 5

Albeit presumably to plan, frittered away some ball with often fruitless box-kicks. Far less of a menace to Pumas than last week, and still not an ideal “controller” at No 9. Made one really daft decision at advanced stage to take quick tap when situation cried out for simple shot at posts; luckily Boks retained their penalty.  

Warren Whiteley: 5.5

Got around the park, and did some useful cleaning-up when others around him were lax on defence. Involved in occasional ball-in-hand offensives. Still to produce a real Test-level cracker, though …

Oupa Mohoje: 5.5

Not as prominent as at Mbombela, but still one of the better Bok pack members. Got through tons of rugged tackling work, even if some were high and fortunate to escape censure. Lineout skills again evident.

Francois Louw: 4.5

Hard to see him surviving in XV to play Australia in fortnight. Another sub-standard outing as fetcher, including wretched first half when Bok breakdown work was broadly pitiful. In fairness, thunderous few minutes after break, including brilliant little back-flip to tee up Habana try … but then yanked off.

Lood de Jager: 5.5

Reasonable, though on Saturday’s showing (curtailed to 44 minutes before substitution), Pieter-Steph du Toit may well reclaim hotly-contested No 5 jersey.

Eben Etzebeth: 6

One regular who did put in an honest shift. Lineout banker, and made two critical defensive interventions, including pushing a flying Matias Orlando into touch when try otherwise beckoned. Striking stamina levels.

Vincent Koch: 4.5

Failed to build on last week’s promise. One or two sturdy enough scrums, but lacked the explosive power seen in Nelspruit, and shown up on defence.

Adriaan Strauss: 4

Captaincy under raging scrutiny now. It would so help his cause if own playing levels were suitably decent. Frankly, they just aren’t this year. Outdone by Agustin Creevy for pure mongrel, and poor at breakdowns where he should be a key helper to the cause.

Tendai Mtawarira: 4

Sorry, but the likeable “Beast” – even on the occasion of equalling Os du Randt for most prop caps – gave another comfort-zone performance, something that has become too habitual. Anonymous outside set-piece. Shakeup needed at No 1 … now see below.

Standout substitute:

Steven Kitshoff: 7   

Du Toit and Jaco Kriel also provided tangible, fresh gusto in the second half, but barrelling loosehead prop Kitshoff made enough impact both at scrum-time and in general play over some 36 minutes to bag top marks overall on a bleak day for the Boks. Did miss one tackle badly.

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01 October 2016
South Africa v Australia, Pretoria 17:05
02 October 2016
Argentina v New Zealand, Buenos Aires 00:10
08 October 2016
South Africa v New Zealand, Durban 17:05
Argentina v Australia, London 20:30
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