Kolisi: Boks’ accidental hero

2013-06-15 22:45
Siya Kolisi (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – It says so much about a collectively ragged performance by the Springboks that it took a substitute player to show them the way against a spoiling Scotland at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

Stormers flank Siya Kolisi, a day shy of his 22nd birthday, cashed in commendably on the unexpected opportunity to come off the bench as quickly as the fourth minute for his Test debut, courtesy of a game-ending knee injury to luckless fellow young buck Arno Botha who ironically had led the forward charge in last weekend’s much more comfortable disposal of Italy.

Thank goodness the Zwide product rose to the occasion, too, in the broadly unappetising 30-17 scramble to victory, from the embarrassing situation of staring nastily down the barrel of one of the all-time shock home defeats for the country when they fell behind 17-6 to the weakened tourists in the 43rd minute.

VIDEO: Hamilton punches Etzebeth

GALLERY: Springboks v Scotland

Say what you like about the glaringly lax officiating, for the most part, as Scotland got away with all manner of skulduggery to disrupt the attempted Springbok flow: the overwhelming view will remain that this was a job badly done by Heyneke Meyer’s charges.

Here’s how we rated the Boks, with mediocrity a common theme:

Willie le Roux: 6
Up and down this week, like so many colleagues. Fumbled a high ball, and might have been more assertive in some tackles. But also absolute gem of an offload for JJ Engelbrecht’s try and other moments of mini-trickery.

Bryan Habana: 6
Unlike last week’s so explosive showing against Italy, few opportunities came the veteran’s way this time. Did nothing notably wrong, though.

JJ Engelbrecht: 5.5
Give him his due: much better second half as Boks clawed back to seize initiative. But pretty scratchy first period, with some missed tackles and one fatal rush out of his defensive line near own posts which led to Scottish try.

Jean de Villiers: 6
The Duracell Bunny of SA rugby again this year: somehow just keeps going despite chronic over-playing. Best Bok back defensively in their problematic first half, though did lose some steam near finish.

Bjorn Basson: 6.5
Like co-wing Habana, precious little chance to get a head of steam, but customarily at ease in kick-chase aspects -- and made one particularly alert, try-saving tackle.

Morne Steyn: 5.5

Oops, a bit of the retreat to indecisive, timid and too predictable habits of last year. Also missed easy penalty kick by his standards. Should relish next week’s return to beloved Loftus ... or will Pat Lambie get a run now instead?

Ruan Pienaar: 5.5
So many caps, yet still so many lurking reservations. Service reasonable enough, considering gross lack of protection around rucks, but no more than that. Perhaps at fault as space sometimes opened up too easily for Scottish snipers around fringes?

Pierre Spies: 5
For so experienced an international, another No 8 showing of frustratingly fitful input. Has been a favourite of coach Meyer for a long time; patience may be wearing thin.

Arno Botha: No rating
Lasted only four minutes before one of those freak, not-nice-to-watch knee injuries while slightly shifting his balance and not a Scottish hand even on him. 

Marcell Coetzee: 5.5
Always strives to be involved, but can become a bit “headless chicken” ... just too frenetic at times. But did confirm good engine with strong finish. 

Juandre Kruger: 5.5
Pace in open play came to the fore sporadically, but not nearly assertive enough in the boiler room against the oft-cynical Scots -- and far from his best lineout match.

Eben Etzebeth: 7
The one Bok line-out forward to meet standards; some fine takes at the front. Also outdid several tight-five allies for work-rate and robustness. Just about kept cool, too, when blatantly provoked by second-row rival Jim Hamilton, who was yellow-carded for his flat-hand-to-the-face indiscretion.

Jannie du Plessis: 5.5
A fraction better than against Italy, I felt, as anchor of scrum that at least held its own this week. But still a long way off his A-game.

Adriaan Strauss: 5.5

Has to be given unusually lowly score for him because of some key errors, like missing some lineouts, delaying one throw enough to be penalised, and getting in the way of a drive by team-mate Coetzee. But did help light the belated Bok bounce-back fire with fierce general play, it must be said.

Tendai Mtawarira: 5
Sorry, it’s time for a sit-out now for the “Beast” to see if it has the desired effect in restoring best personal levels. Steady enough at the set-piece, though gave away a penalty there and didn’t smash into enough rucks or make great yardage with ball under arm.

Siya Kolisi: 7.5
Suddenly thrown into battle with barely time to touch his toes, yet composure and confidence so quickly to the fore. Fantastic physicality, plenty of tackles, and purposeful ball-carries ... including one memorable, weaving surge in the last quarter.

*No other Bok replacements got more than 12 full minutes, not long enough to be comprehensively gauged, although Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis and Jan Serfontein busied themselves encouragingly swiftly.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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