Cape Town - The
Springboks simply needed a basic victory, minus bonus point, to land the Rugby
That they instead
bagged the Full Monty in a 46-13 rout of Argentina in Salta only showed the
depth of hunger, zeal and aspiration in their generously-staffed ranks with the
2019 World Cup around the corner - they are fast-firming contenders.
Say what you
like about reduced merits in an abbreviated competition this year: Rassie
Erasmus’ charges were richly deserving winners and looked a suitably
tickled-pink bunch as they hoisted the spoils for the first time since the
Pumas made it a quartet of participants in the annual southern-hemisphere
It was also
a triumph of composure, after an often ominous development had occurred as
early as the second minute: a Pumas converted try, which can get them
irreversibly fired-up on home terrain.
sting was progressively, clinically drawn from them.
were more industrial than genuinely vibrant in the first half, but then
increasingly found verve and enterprise (helped by what is clearly healthy
conditioning in most cases) on the front foot after the break to add three
further tries to their earlier two.
players earned high marks, but our summary was headed by the prolific-scoring,
incisive Handre Pollard at flyhalf (including two dot-downs) and Trevor
Nyakane’s butchery of poor Tetaz Chaparro at scrum time and enormous work-rate
in other facets.
Here’s how I rated the Boks in Salta:
Willie le Roux: 6
One or two
“nowhere” kicks, and it was strange not to see him too fulsomely involved in
attacks when the sluice-gates opened in the second period. But he took one nice
half-gap, and there were a couple of healthy left-footed exit kicks.
Cheslin Kolbe: 8
international star just keeps rising … including in the astonishing comfort he
showed as emergency No 9 during Faf de Klerk’s time in the sin bin,
demonstrating Nick Mallett’s long-time conviction in that area. He chased and
harried ceaselessly, put body on the line defensively and was increasingly
thrust-laden in his starting berth, including elegant 67th-minute
Lukhanyo Am: 6
been a little disappointed that so little ball reached his outside-centre
channel, especially as Boks slightly overdid the box kicking in first period.
He also missed the last 20, impactful minutes after Jesse Kriel’s entry. Some
moments of deft footwork and reliable tackling, though.
Damian de Allende: 7.5
One of his
best Tests in a while, enough to silence a few knockers. He was commandingly
robust and prolific as a defender, grafted commendably over the ball and
produced smart little cameo roles in some offensive raids.
Makazole Mapimpi: 6.5
hesitancy, including positional concern (perhaps?) in Pumas’ lone try, and slightly
over-running a short pass from Le Roux once. But then he grew and grew into the
contest, with a smart finish for try and one thrilling, defence-splitting
Handre Pollard: 8.5
commander. Bossed his channel with enormous aplomb, not for first time this
season. His directness and power made him a constant menace near Pumas’ line,
including two personal tries in a 31-point feast for the pivot. Great long pass
to tee up Mapimpi’s try, and usual reliability off the tee.
Faf de Klerk: 6
execution of duties at times, including some wrongly-weighed tactical kicks.
But always prepared to get fingers dirty, and service was sprightly when he did
pass. Yellow card for breakdown offence (with Boks on repeat-infringement
warning) wasn’t ideal, but they made such light work of his absence, on the
plus side …
Duane Vermeulen: 7
performance from the acting captain and gnarly No 8. Helped subdue the Pumas
pack’s initial relish, engaged well with French referee Romain Poite (sometimes
previously a problematic SA figure) and won a breakdown penalty. Slightly
twisted knee impeded him a bit before he was subbed.
Pieter-Steph du Toit: 7
at blindside flank … no change to that admirable trend here for a player who
now deserves a rotational rest. Safe and sometimes even creative hands, and
confirmed durability of that engine by popping up a lot in late raids.
Kwagga Smith: 6.5
always visibly impactful, but that was often because he was doing unsung
donkeywork at breakdowns, including slowing Argentine ball. His swift
track-back tackling was also important at times.
Franco Mostert: 7.5
showing from another so trusty diesel. But in this game he wasn’t just about
mongrel and energy at close quarters: fine support running, valuable ruck work,
and a plethora of dynamic, own carries.
Eben Etzebeth: 7
“enforcer” showing from the seasoned figure. Had a memorable early break-out
charge, confirming athletic prowess, made aggressive, crunching tackles and was
secure figure at front of lineout. Leaked a penalty for maul collapse.
Trevor Nyakane: 8.5
of the engine room in 2019, and this was a crowning performance for the
tighthead. Utterly dominated his direct opponent, Chaparro, at scrum-time,
helping earn a string of Bok penalties in his 50-minute shift. But also
apparently made 15 tackles … RWC 2007-winning captain John Smit labelled it
“insane” in SuperSport studio tribute.
Bongi Mbonambi: 7.5
interesting, this: has he now gained a slight edge over much-vaunted Malcolm
Marx in priority terms at hooker? Ball of fire in Salta, including outstanding
maul management as usual (and a try as reward once), plus welcome lineout
throw-in assuredness. Mind you, Marx was pleasingly restless off the splinters,
Tendai Mtawarira: 7.5
Not far off
his prop partner for power at the set-piece, including a couple of penalty wins
himself based on the pressure the veteran exerted. That he was so especially,
animatedly gleeful when Boks celebrated the title said much about renewed
Steven Kitshoff: 7
become pleasingly, tellingly customary, almost all Bok subs climbed into their
tasks quickly and with relish, but the burly loosehead prop topped the pile
with his vigorous 33 minutes, including continued scrum dominance, strong
drives and intelligent lead-up work in one of the tries.
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