Rugby Championship

Bok ratings: Widespread shame!

2016-10-08 22:09
Pieter-Steph du Toit (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Was this about as bad as it gets for Springbok rugby? In short, yes.

While the record defeat for the national team remains the 53-3 outcome against England at Twickenham in 2002, their 57-15 home drubbing from New Zealand at Kings Park on Saturday could really be considered every bit as painful.

Only some errant place-kicking at times from Beuden Barrett – not that the All Blacks seem to get too bothered by such trivia as pot-shots at the posts – possibly prevented a new landmark in Bok scoreboard ignominy.

But remember that when the Boks crashed to England 14 years ago, they were “only” victims of a seven-tries-to-nil margin, plus being a man down for some three-quarters of the game after Jannes Labuschagne’s red card … here it was a more galling 9-0.

The Durban Test gave starkest confirmation yet during this grim year that the Boks are all at sea strategically, a rot that has inevitably infected individual performance levels, even of players with prior, proud reputations. 

Here’s how I rated the Boks out of 10 in Durban:

Pat Lambie: 3.5

Went horribly backwards at fullback after faring stably enough against Wallabies. Just looked too tentative, including losing aerial duel with Ben Smith in lead-up to one try and having chip charged down to gift another.

Francois Hougaard: 4.5

Runs around looking for work, but the fact that he is simply not a Test-suitable wing came home to roost again. Let Waisake Naholo slip out of clutches once … primarily because he just isn’t big enough?

Juan de Jongh: 4

Full of intent early on, including winning a penalty and pressuring, harrying well. But then receded, missing a key tackle or two, and sometimes just being bounced out too easily in contact. Infuriatingly too quick to put ball to boot once, after he intercepted.

Damian de Allende: 5

During mildly competitive SA first half, his physical attributes served the No 12 channel well. Also made scything break in second period, before deft offload spilled by sub Lionel Mapoe on outside. Ran out of zeal and steam near end.

Bryan Habana: 3.5  

Very disappointing Test for the great veteran, suggesting he may not resurface in green and gold next year. Harrowing outing on defence (though one fine tackle on rampaging Dane Coles) and appallingly over-cooked a kick-ahead on rare Bok attack.

Morne Steyn: 4

Gun-barrel reliable off the tee … but we always knew that of the flyhalf. Simply no other X-factor on offer, including reluctance to take ball flat, and mixed some determined tackles with glaringly weak ones.  

Faf de Klerk: 4.5

Rank poor defence at times, and occasionally just swatted back too easily in contact situations. Still, some moments of raw courage, like a desperate stop of Naholo one metre from Bok try-line. Again little sense of game management.

Warren Whiteley: 4.5

A game that leaves his berth (among many others, mind) tenuous again. Totally eclipsed by imperious direct rival Kieran Read, and short of “grunt”. Some consistently alert and willing defence, including fine track-back tackle on TJ Perenara.  

Oupa Mohoje: 5

Still not quite cutting it, alas. Yes, he makes some sturdy tackles when Boks are under cosh, but where is the go-forward you expect of a blind-side flank? Too docile at close quarters.

Francois Louw: 5.5

Difficult to rate as he quit park permanently after 12 minutes through injury, but in that time was making promising enough nuisance of himself at breakdown.  

Pieter-Steph  du Toit: 6

One of few Boks to emerge with any meaningful credit. Grafted with unceasing zeal, tried desperately to get his side onto front foot, and also cleverly pinched a lineout ball. Conceded penalty for not rolling away.

Eben Etzebeth: 5.5

Unusually – for him -- subbed after only 45 minutes but had already put in gallant quest by then to stem All Black tide, and fresh legs were clearly needed. Helped Mohoje in two or three effective “gang tackles”.

Vincent Koch: 4.5

At least the Bok scrum didn’t take any backward steps, even as difficulties mushroomed elsewhere, so Koch must take some credit as start-out tighthead anchor. Much less effective than last week outside set-piece, however.

Adriaan Strauss: 4.5

Lamentably no repeat of his fire-and-brimstone showing against Australia at Loftus; right back to the personal mediocrity that has marked his rocky tenure as skipper this year.

Tendai Mtawarira: 6.5

Ironically as Boks lurched to record low levels in 2016, the “Beast” finally awoke from long-time slumber and fought valiantly for 50 minutes. Rock-solid at scrum-time, one or two strong carries and crunching tackles.

Standout substitute:

Jaco Kriel: 6

Doubts will linger over his abilities as a fetcher, but the Lions-based livewire did his utmost to limit the carnage with his speedy track-back yards, firm hits and general mobility.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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