Bok ratings: Faf lone ray of light

2016-06-12 06:30
Faf de Klerk (Getty)

Cape Town – The much-trumpeted new Springbok broom only whipped up an unedifying, eye-stinging cloud of dust in its first exposure at Newlands on Saturday.

Instead a fiercely-committed Ireland swept clean for a shock, 26-20 first-time triumph on South African soil in the first Test, and in doing so leaving a heap more questions than answers for the senior-figure combo of Allister Coetzee and Adriaan Strauss.

There were so many flaws in the Bok display, made all the more humiliating by the fact that Ireland had 14 men for almost an hour, that the skipper from the last regime, Jean de Villiers, was aptly moved to venture in his SuperSport punditry colours: “They will have to be solutions-driven this week (in the lead-up to the second encounter in Johannesburg).”

Seldom a pessimist, he did strike a note of stoicism by adding that it had been a “learning day … this group will come out stronger”.

Significantly upped doses of mongrel, precision and intelligence will be required at Emirates Airline Park, even if the thin air of the Highveld seems a good place for redemption after the Irish would have enjoyed the home-like coolness, clouds and lush surface of Newlands.

On a collectively muted, ideas-shy day for the Boks, finding standout Springbok individuals was a lean-pickings business, but debutant scrumhalf Faf de Klerk earns premier Sport24 mantle for the encouraging potential he showed, despite the multi-pronged difficulties around him.

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

Willie le Roux: 4.5

Perhaps not for the first time in his Test career, the supposed talisman was just too predictable in his very quest to be unpredictable. Some badly-weighted off-loads, one glaring defensive fumble, and very lateral and space-cramping for others in his attacking sorties.

JP Pietersen: 5.5

Looked for work diligently in limited space, but also first Bok to concede penalty – straight from game’s kick-off – and made some mistakes.

Lionel Mapoe: 5.5

Would be unjust to be too harsh in judging his first start for SA; ball so seldom reached his channel. Defence largely firm enough.

Damian de Allende: 5.5

Where is the player who so lit up 2015? Unconvincing since his return from injury for Stormers, and really no better in Boks’ first Test of year. Conceded penalty for high tackle. Some glimpses of go-forward.

Lwazi Mvovo: 6.5

Clinical, knife-like finish to one of painfully few creative Bok moves, and sometimes showed welcome relish (and success) in challenging for 50-50 aerial balls. Could provide more energy on defence?

Pat Lambie: 6

Had done little wrong until unfortunate, much-debated pole-axing from CJ Stander left the luckless customer lights out in 23rd minute and stretchered off.  

Faf de Klerk: 7.5

Undoubtedly “up for it”, and constantly effervescent with snappy service … even as opposite number Conor Murray had quite some outing too. Set tone for his lively 70 mins or so with gutsy, crunching hit on Irish loosehead Jack McGrath.

Duane Vermeulen: 5

Irish had done their homework, and then some. Normally key Bok ball-carrier made unusually little headway, and sometimes gang-tackled backwards. Bad fumble in one pick-up off back of a scrum. Has had many, many better Tests.

Siya Kolisi: 5

Began to come into his own with ball in hand as game developed, but broadly speaking didn’t provide nearly enough oomph for a Bok blind-sider. A “Bone Collector” he ain’t.

Francois Louw: 5.5

Like fellow overseas-based loosie colleague Vermeulen, under-delivered on known international potential. Still, one very good steal … and Boks couldn’t boast many of those.

Lood de Jager: 4.5

Last season he became fairly used to Bok player-of-match laurels; desperately short of those standards in this one. Twice had ball ripped out in contact, yellow-carded, and some poor ruck entries.

Eben Etzebeth: 5

Lineout work not far off best, but otherwise the “enforcer” didn’t get properly out of the blocks. Bad tackle technique culpable in one Irish try, and dropped a routine pass.

Frans Malherbe: 4.5

Core function is to provide stable scrum, and few gripes on that score. One alert tackle on in-field Irish sniper when try seemed on, but several costly breakdown penalties brings his mark right down.

Adriaan Strauss: 5

Staple work largely OK for the Bok hooker. But you also want to see more than that from captain of a labouring cause, don’t you? Just not animated enough as leader; went through motions for too long.

Tendai Mtawarira: 6

One Bok stalwart to come reasonably close to expected service. Some purposeful carries, useful tackles and dependable at scrum-time.

Standout substitute:

Elton Jantjies: 6   

Called to fray midway through first half, while probably still short of best fitness, so under those circumstances performed pluckily and combined well with Lions colleague De Klerk. Lovely inside pass for only “created” Bok try. Flashes of promise also from Warren Whiteley and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  faf de klerk  |  rugby

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