Rugby Championship

Dynamo Duane tops Bok pops

2013-09-07 18:01
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Perhaps if coaches were routinely rated alongside their players, Heyneke Meyer would have come out at the head of the pile for the Springboks’ sizzling 38-12 demolition of Australia in former hoodoo city Brisbane on Saturday.

As it happened: Wallabies v Springboks

Not even unanimously tipped to win by various critics - this one admittedly among the pre-game doubters - they smashed the Wallabies by a four-tries-to-nil margin to land another five-point haul on the Castle Rugby Championship log and thus stay one ahead of the All Blacks going into their juicy clash of the unbeaten sides in Auckland next weekend.

The game was a triumph for Meyer’s old-fashioned but still highly relevant tactical wisdom: subdue ... then increasingly penetrate.

This the Boks did in no uncertain terms, their juggernaut pack smashing holes both into the Aussie territory and psyche, and then leaving them bereft of initiative and ripe for the plucking.

On a day when Springbok players sparkled across the board, here’s why I believe Duane Vermeulen was cream of the crop ...

Bok ratings out of 10:

Zane Kirchner 7

Give the guy his due: takes much stick as “robotic” fullback but here he was splendid. Sound positionally, and sure-handed fielding high balls, whilst his theatrically-dotted try – doing it that way nearly saw him lose the ball, mind – was cherry on top in confirming element of pizzazz to his game.

Willie le Roux 7.5

He wouldn’t be WLR if he didn’t have the odd moment of eccentricity. But things just “happen” when he is on or near the ball, don’t they? Increasingly slippery as Boks turned the screws ... and broke like knife through melting butter for the bonus-point try.

JJ Engelbrecht 6.5

Not a lot of opportunity for attack from his channel, but suitably hungry to contribute on defence where his credentials are sometimes questioned.

Jean de Villiers 7.5

Rarely, gave away a couple of penalties in first half. But mostly another demonstration of crisp authority both as an inside centre and captain, where his stocks only grow. Lovely acceleration for his try.

Bryan Habana 7

Might have wished to be more greatly involved ... until he exploded into action with one memorable burst of speed on the hour in build-up to De Villiers’ dot-down. Stays notably alert to opportunities to catch opposition defence cold ...

Morne Steyn 7

Hard not to look good at No 10 behind such a dominant pack! But did his staple duties well and quietly efficient at times on defence. Mostly metronomic off the tee, though bit naughty to err with one easy conversion by his standards.

Ruan Pienaar 7

Got better and better as game wore on. Far more swift and decisive than in Mendoza, even if missed odd tackle. Lovely long off-load to Le Roux in build-up to beautifully-manufactured Kirchner try.

Duane Vermeulen 8.5

Sublime Test – his finest, I feel. Bristled with aggression and purpose from start to finish and also silenced those who question his pace (perceived lack thereof) and skills set. More responsible than most on night for utterly rattling Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper, too.

Willem Alberts 7.5

One or two clumsy moments, and earned yellow card for cynical transgression in first half, but also responsible for truly monster tackles that must send feel-good factor through allies around him.

Francois Louw 8

Worked so feverishly to overshadow Michael Hooper in first half – which he hugely did – that he was bound to slow up just a fraction in second. Still, another outstanding Test by the Bath man. Like a tow-trucker, seems to be at every single breakdown.

Flip van der Merwe 6.5

They may both really be No 4s but his alliance with Eben Etzebeth is showing more and more that it can work. Still has penchant for conceding infuriating penalties – it needs addressing before Auckland -- but “grunt” he adds to mean Bok pack undeniable.

Eben Etzebeth 7.5

Only 21 yet such a key, muscular figure in Bok engine room. Superb performance considering ill status in lead-up week; was still winning lineouts and cleaning out tirelessly even in closing minutes.

Jannie du Plessis 7

If you wanted to quibble you could still urge higher work-rate outside set-piece, but the tighthead was also a rock at his core task – where Wallabies were frankly obliterated and penalised dime-a-dozen.

Bismarck du Plessis 7.5

His great early steal set tone for clear-cut Bok supremacy at breakdown all night, and that amazing strength on his feet at close quarters was always a factor.

Tendai Mtawarira 8

The Beast is back! Almost did another “Vickery 2009” job as scrummaging enforcer on the day; also prominent as carrier ahead of first Bok try, and made his tackles fiercely.

Standout substitute:

Juandre Kruger 7.5

Just about everyone among the Bok subs brought appetite and energy, but Kruger seemed man possessed in 25 high-tempo minutes. More than made up for lethargy in Mendoza with rabid work-rate and fine skills – evident in key handwork during lead-up to De Villiers’ try.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing



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