Cape Town – South Africa’s most vibrant showing of the
Castle Rugby Championship, in thrashing Australia at Loftus on Saturday, is
reflected in our performance cards for the Bok participants.
Our Springbok ratings:
Zane Kirchner: 6.5
Better game, no question. Got first Bok try, denied another
by a lick of touchline paint, and tried to be more involved in attacking play.
But might a more naturally skilled fullback have been even more prominent on
such a high-tempo evening? That sneaky feeling remains.
Bryan Habana: 8.5
Magnificent, majestic, whole-hearted contribution. Revelled
in the shackle-breaking, more adventurous Bok formula, and was so often at the
heart of raids, as evidenced by his thrilling hat-trick of tries.
Quick-thinking lineout throw in lead-up to his second was a match high point.
Jaco Taute: 6.5
Nervy start, and a rapid fumble. But then got more and more confident
and influential as South Africa cranked up charm offensive. Fine physicality in
the tackle, too.
Jean de Villiers: 6.5
Still below his most incisive and efficient; this hasn’t
been his best tournament in personal playing terms. But made very sound
leadership decisions and responsible for a great breakout run in second half.
Francois Hougaard: 6
Mild defensive lapse as slippery Kurtley Beale evaded his
grasp in build-up to lone Wallaby try. Otherwise a trademark picture of
commitment, even if most of the fun and games came on the opposite Bok wing.
Johan Goosen: 6.5
Far from perfect, let it be said straight away, and wonky
start off the kicking tee hardly helped. Yet his willingness to receive the
ball far closer to the gain-line was hugely influential in the new Bok
dynamism. Thwarted of try by a few inches after slashing first-half break.
Ruan Pienaar: 7
As Victor Matfield noted, took much pressure off debutant
halfback partner Goosen. Missed several shots at goal himself, but also
responsible for some beautifully-weighed passes, short and long, in Bok
Duane Vermeulen: 7
Really warming to Test rugby now, especially as he
increasingly shakes off those injury cobwebs. Rugged tackling and one or two
fine steals, particularly in glowing first half by him. Looks set to excel on
heavy British fields in November.
Willem Alberts: 7
Perhaps the quietest link in impressive Bok loose trio
during first period – not that that was any major crime – but then picked up
his tempo. Good leg-drive in lead-up to first Bok try, and won lineout just
ahead of Francois Louw’s touchdown much later on.
Francois Louw: 8.5
Emphatically shares top Bok laurel with Habana on Sport24
scorecard. As good (better, even?) a game by the open-sider as he had against
France at Newlands in 2010. Always a factor at breakdown, and provider of delicious
dummy off-load before actually passing to flying Habana for his third score.
Andries Bekker: 7
That’s more like it from the lanky customer! A model of
constructive industry for the duration; imposing at the lineout and a solid
“stopper” of some Aussie mauling initiatives.
Eben Etzebeth: 7.5
Terrific, happily headbutt-free aggression at close
quarters, including some crunching, drive-back tackles. Also good to see his
lineout skills blossoming ... two spring-heeled poaches off Wallaby throw.
Jannie du Plessis: 6
Not a prolific day of scrummaging, so the Bok tighthead got
few opportunities to exhibit his main trade.
Adriaan Strauss: 7
More than competent once more, as he looks increasingly
assured in the absence of Bismarck du Plessis. Was the key link-up man in
Habana’s delightfully cheeky try from a swiftly-taken lineout.
Tendai Mtawarira: 6
Remains some way short of his barnstorming best; with a bit
of luck he’s saving a big ‘un for Soweto? Nothing wrong with his unglamorous basics,
Substitutes on long enough to be
Pat Lambie: 6.5
Almost embarrassingly huge cheer as he replaced Kirchner – a
Loftus man, into the bargain -- after 55 minutes! One or two slick touches, but
also couldn’t manage to make a truly compelling alternative impression from the
Marcell Coetzee: 6.5
A consistent starter earlier in the Test season, he was
clearly desperate to get on the park. Few clear-cut opportunities to wow the
crowd, but a zealous chaser and tackler. One quick-thinking defensive intervention
to stave off possible Wallaby try.
Flip van der Merwe: 6
Inconclusive21 minutes at the end ... by then the game was
fast and loose which is hardly the ideal playground for a No 4-type lock.
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writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
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