Cape Town – Duane Vermeulen was justly awarded the official
man-of-the match mantle, but several Springbok players were only just behind
him as the tourists ensured a clean sweep by pipping England 16-15 in a
heart-stopping contest at rain-lashed Twickenham on Saturday.
Here’s how we rated the Boks:
Zane Kirchner 7
Still a stranger to territory beyond the advantage line with
ball in hand, but on a wet and wild day like this one, all aspects of his
defensive game came very commendably to the fore.
International Rugby: England v South Africa Highlights
JP Pietersen 7.5
Few chances to get into that thrilling attacking stride of
his, but marvellously committed in every tackle he made – ask poor Brad
Barritt! – and always alert to opportunities. Classic case of looking hungrily
for work when it wasn’t always being presented to him.
Juan de Jongh 6
Did nothing wrong, even if conditions desperately seldom allowed
for his nifty footwork to come into play.
Jean de Villiers 7.5
Inspiring as captain; offered constant personal dynamism and
took astute decisions. One vital cover tackle, and another key ankle-tap on a
rampaging Manu Tuilagi.
Francois Hougaard 6.5
For a reluctant left wing (he insists he wants to revert
back to No 9 and new Bulls attack guru Victor Matfield confirmed as much in
SuperSport studio), Hougie had one of his better matches. One or two
mini-breaks in tight space, and tigerish tackling when needed.
Pat Lambie 7
Kicked all his goals in a tight contest, something England
glaringly failed to do. And in the second half, began to show encouraging authority
and some clever touches. Defended his channel resolutely too.
Ruan Pienaar 6.5
Still stopped a little short of being wholly convincing as a
“general” at scrumhalf, but did plenty of good things after a nervy start when
his clearance kick was charged down. Good awareness in sparking counter-attacks
Duane Vermeulen 8
Unbelievable work ethic on a heavy pitch and afternoon
tailor-made for his ruggedness and power. Carried the ball with venom, turned a
few over, and for “hits” was up there with the best in the Bok pack.
Willem Alberts 7
The Bone Collector almost unfailingly shines against these
particular opponents. Tops for physicality, and one handy lineout steal as well
in almost an hour’s activity for the burly unit.
Francois Louw 7
Tremendous first half on the open side, in particular, which
cemented his status as one of the players of the tour. Received an upper
body/neck knock that perhaps took some wind from his sails later?
Juandre Kruger 7
Contributed to Bok lineout mastery throughout game, and the
Bulls man also got refreshingly stuck in with many England maul-stopping
Eben Etzebeth 7.5
Short fuse came to fore after he was provoked, and some
collective handbags then broke out. Otherwise, though, fantastic, controlled
aggression, forceful carries and tackles and usual prominence at front of
Jannie du Plessis 6
Flogged to death this season, so perhaps Twickers was just
never going to be the good doctor’s day. Mind you, the tighthead was often
unjustly targeted by daftly officious Nigel Owens for scrum infringements when
rival Alex Corbisiero was blatantly scrumming in.
Adriaan Strauss 7.5
Mr Consistency on this particular northern safari, and no
drop in standards for the last game. Blond head always prominent when Boks
needed to scramble, plus throwing-in once again absolutely pin-point despite
Gurthro Steenkamp 6.5
Useful showing again in absence of Beast Mtawarira; Boks
well served for proven quality at loose-head. Didn’t shirk donkeywork away from
Subs with enough game-time
Pat Cilliers 7
Brought very crucial stability to a struggling scrum for the
second half; bit of a revelation there. Work-rate in general play always strong
Marcell Coetzee 6.5
Has a happy knack of putting his mark on the game
immediately after taking to the field – did so once more. Lots of restless
Heinke van der Merwe
Scrum stayed pretty solid when he replaced a tiring
Steenkamp on 63 minutes.
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