Lambie snatches pole position

2015-08-16 10:08
Pat Lambie (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Pat Lambie may have done enough to earn rights to the No 10 jersey when the Springboks open their Rugby World Cup account against Japan in Brighton on September 19.

He played second fiddle to Handre Pollard for the starting berth in three successive Rugby Championship defeats this season, but his composure, authority and no lack of sparkle in the berth on Saturday went a long way to explaining why the Boks finally nailed down a maiden 2015 Test win against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

The margin of 26-12 was fully deserved, and thoroughly avenged last week’s first-time defeat to these foes in Durban; it was South Africa’s most clear-cut victory in Argentina itself in at least 10 years.

Pollard, who is a huge talent but fallen prey to some inconsistencies at present, would have been envious of the quality of front-foot ball Lambie received in an infinitely more switched-on and clinical Bok performance than at Kings Park.

Yet the Sharks favourite scored highest on the Sport24 performance card, such was the assuredness of his showing, and arguably deserves inside lane at flyhalf as RWC plans take shape ...

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

Zane Kirchner: 6.5

What you see is still very much what you get, but the recalled fullback also barely put a foot wrong and was part of an efficient and hard-working back three collectively.

Lwazi Mvovo: 7.5

Wore No 14 but played on the left and was dynamic from start to finish. Stuck to defensive guns, including a clean aerial take or two, and snaked his way beautifully through some traffic for 30th-minute try.

Jesse Kriel: 7

Limited chances to attack, but looked threatening most times he got them, and showed strong positional awareness on defence at outside centre, including some key wrap-him-up tackles.

Damian de Allende: 6

Continues to grow at No 12, even if he was well policed as an offensive threat. Industrious, and used his strength to ensure no routes through his channel for Pumas runners.

Bryan Habana: 7

Veteran reminded of his versatility with bright showing on less familiar right touchline. Alert and constructive, especially on kick chases. Coolly on hand to register 58th Test try, albeit one of his easiest yet.

Pat Lambie: 8.5

Body language exuded calmness from the word go - would have done much to settle any butterflies around him. Excellent in every respect; a general of the important berth. Lone real blemish on otherwise deadly all-round kicking day was overcooking one penalty kick for corner.

Ruan Pienaar: 6.5

Still makes the odd decision-making error from turnovers, but could rarely be faulted for quality or stealth of his service here. Clever long pass for Habana try.

Schalk Burger: 6.5

Great tap-on pass in movement which led to Mvovo’s eye-catching dot-down, which only confirmed expansion of his skills set in recent seasons. As ever, some frantic tidying-up on defence when Boks stretched.

Willem Alberts: 6.5

Mere presence of the Bone Collector at No 7 seemed to draw some sting out of Pumas pack that was well less gung-ho than a week ago. Decent showing for over an hour considering rustiness.

Heinrich Brussow: 7

Tremendously busy at breakdowns; running back into best form. Made important hits at times, too.

Victor Matfield: 7

Debate will linger over whether he deserves to start at RWC ahead of young firebrand Lood de Jager, but his restoration helped mastermind dominant Bok lineout. Some good carries, and who says he’s a scrummaging liability in second row?

Eben Etzebeth: 7.5

Absolutely amazing track-back run from other end of park for try-saving tackle in second minute! Set tone for his performance as whole. Back to physical best - though fuse was tested at times - and put tons of pressure on Argentine throw-in at lineout.

Marcel van der Merwe: 6

Might have contributed more in open play, and did benefit hugely from absence this week of hatchet-man Marcos Ayerza as his loosehead opponent. That said, did the business at set-piece where Boks seldom took backward step.

Adriaan Strauss: 6.5

Vitally busy in first-quarter general play, as Boks established necessary foothold up front. Accurate at lineouts, and applied himself at scrums.

Trevor Nyakane: 7

Just his second start for Boks, and it was an eye-catching one. Rock solid at No 1, which aided visitors winning scrum penalty count this time. One or two battering-ram charges as well.

Standout substitutes:

Schalk Brits and Pieter-Steph du Toit: 6.5  

These two level-peg as the bench players to most catch the eye when introduced. Hooker Brits featured strongly with ball in hand, reminding of his stepping and general athletic abilities, whilst the happily fit-again Du Toit put himself about powerfully at blindside flank when he replaced Alberts on 64 minutes.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  pat lambie  |  rugby

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