Cape Town – A ton-of-bricks performance up
front by Duane Vermeulen, coupled with some great moments of artistry and
anticipation from Willie le Roux in the backline, went a long way to teeing up
the Springboks’ 28-0 romp over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.
The South African effort was based much
more around raw power and clattering commitment in the collisions than it was
silky skills, for the most part, but it was all too much for the Scots who were
just too uncreative on attack – not to mention demoralised by awesome Bok
defence – to be able to bother the scoreboard themselves.
Here’s how I rated the Boks out of 10:
le Roux 8.5
Arguably his best, most rounded Test match
yet; great statement about his ability to excel at fullback in European
conditions. Safe under high balls, tactically sound and alert on defence, but
his ghosting into the line and then cross-kick for JP Pietersen’s try was the
game’s highlight from a skills point of view. Intercept try of his own was a
reward for the way he sums up situations for his team’s benefit.
Much more sprightly than last week, when he
still looked rusty against Wales. Fine finishing for his try after Le Roux’s
lead-up work, and also produced one memorable, drive-him-back cover tackle on a
rare dangerous Scottish foray.
Still not quite firing in the way pre-2012
Bok fans – not to mention Lions and Stormers faithful – remember. But he’s
de Villiers 6.5
Made sure no Scottish traffic got through
his channel, even if this disgracefully cutting-up pitch was no fitting
playground for his attacking skills. Desperately close to bagging one of his
legendary intercept tries on one occasion.
Not the best “first 40” the old pro will
ever experience, but then only redoubled his effort to get involved after the
break. Turned and tracked back with admirable stealth for diving, fingertip
prevention of Scottish try late on.
We’re still waiting for that really genuine
“ooh and ah” performance from Lambie at Test level. In fairness, though, he was
efficient and workmanlike here, including making his tackles with gusto and
taking good options at No 10, though he did fluff one pretty easy penalty.
du Preez 7
Still a few slightly irksome rough edges to
the veteran’s game, but mostly very decisive and suitably urgent at scrumhalf.
Superbly committed: made several decent mini-gains
with ball in hand in driving play, managed the back of the scrum smartly, but
strongest point was some thunderous tackling that will have left many aching Scottish
It’s a concern that he walks a near
constant, injury tightrope, but as coach Heyneke Meyer reminded, that’s just
because of the type of player he is. Like a tank in first half before having to
be subbed for Marcell Coetzee.
Got through plenty of work where the
proverbial sun don’t shine, even if he will have more profound days as a
ball-carrier. Victim of reckless cleanout by serial meanie Jim Hamilton late in
match that worryingly required stretcher mode of transport off pitch.
van der Merwe 7.5
Impressive day in the engine-room on the
slow, soft Murrayfield surface. Worked his socks off in all departments
required of him ... and discipline seemed refreshingly better, too.
Fairly solid hour of comeback Test activity
after a long absence, even if not quite at vintage, robust best. Deserves
credit for his muscular contribution to some concerted Bok rolling mauls,
Was putting himself about purposefully until
injury cruelly cut short his second Bok start after 37 minutes. Probably wished
there’d been more scrums before his departure, to try to compellingly tick that
Industrious as ever, until the Boks let
Bismarck du Plessis loose off his pitch-side exercise bike just after hour
mark. It must be said: lineouts went awry after Strauss exited.
We still haven’t seen the best of
Steenkamp’s qualities both in the scrums and in open play for the Boks since he
made France his home base. Just seemed a more forceful Bok during his Bulls
Much more game-time than usual, thanks to
Malherbe’s exit before half-time ... and showed his gratitude for that.
Suitably solid on the tighthead side at scrum-time, and used his juggernaut
frame to great effect in general play, including registering try from
unstoppable maul off lineout.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing