Bok scrum lone salvation

2014-11-09 08:48
Springboks (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Rattled by pure Irish passion and their unyielding commitment on defence, the Springboks progressively frittered away their composure to be humbled in Dublin on Saturday.

As it happened: Ireland v Springboks

The tourists were right in the game for an hour or more, and that is some consolation from the wreckage of this one.

But the final score-line of 29-15 was nevertheless a reminder that you can only curse that increasing Bok refereeing nemesis Romain Poite to an extent over his dubious decisions which included a harsh fourth-quarter yellow card (penalty, yes!) to reserve hooker Adriaan Strauss when the Boks needed it like a hole in the head.

South Africa were simply outfoxed in the final analysis, and they have plenty to think about - particularly in the ineffectual back division - ahead of next weekend’s clash with England at Twickenham.

A ferocious scrummaging effort helped install front-rankers Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira as the Bok standouts on the Sport24 performance chart ...

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

Willie le Roux: 6

During first half, seemed on course for stunning outing. Great catch of early high bomb beneath own posts, and some devilish breaks and passes. But then went rather too flaky in second period.

Cornal Hendricks: 4.5

Was he on the park? Sometimes you could have been forgiven for wondering. Could take leaf from Bryan Habana book for going looking for work when team is under cosh.

Jan Serfontein: 5

Demonstrated strong leg-drive occasionally, but otherwise ran up cul-de-sacs and once passed ball into touch. Fielded one wayward, low Francois Hougaard pass superbly. 

Jean de Villiers: 5

Forgettable Test for someone who seldom has these, even if he did get into the odd half-gap. Struggled for penetration, passing could have been better and some decision-making over penalties in first half – while Boks still had nil on board – questionable.  

Bryan Habana: 5.5

Few opportunities, as those inside him in backline laboured to make inroads. But typically tigerish at breakdowns and in alert tidying-up efforts in broken play.

Handre Pollard: 5.5

Felt the pressure of his halfback partner (see immediately below) having a near-nightmare. Some clever touches, but nothing like as good as he was against NZ at Ellis Park. Missed tackle on Rob Kearney that saw the fullback set up dangerous Irish attack.

Francois Hougaard: 4  

Oh dear, the yips are back! Terribly fumbling display, especially at critical times with Boks on offensive. When he did get his passes off, some of them went seriously adrift to only compound his woes.

Duane Vermeulen: 6

Irish had done their homework on this key, hitherto in-form key Bok forward ... was seriously well policed, so go-forward potential thwarted more often than not. Conceded high-tackle penalty that probably ended Bok challenge.

Oupa Mohoje: 5.5

Early lineout steal offered hope of big day from him, but slightly too innocuous for long periods. No real momentum as a traditional No 7 ball-bearer. First Bok replaced on 47 mins ... but Schalk Burger was only moderately more energetic this time, and made mistakes.

Marcell Coetzee: 6

Usually manages a full-blooded shift and this was not really an exception. Scored try off rolling lineout maul and tackled tirelessly. Must take his share of blame for collective Bok inferiority at breakdown, however.   

Victor Matfield: 6

Did his best as pack leader to engage with eccentric referee Poite, was strong at lineout and hit some rucks with vigour in first half. Seemed to lose a bit of steam later on.

Eben Etzebeth: 5.5

Some good things, but as Nick Mallett noted afterwards, still a shadow of “rampaging” player of last year. Was late tour arrival after family bereavement a factor?

Jannie du Plessis: 7

What you want first and foremost from your No 3 is domination at scrum-time – the veteran provided it. Cornerstone of some huge, mass heaves. Might have looked at final score and thought “what did I do wrong?”

Bismarck du Plessis: 5.5

Trademark competitiveness to the fore; brawny at breakdown and earned some poaches. Loses full point, however, through consecutive penalties leaked for side entries to rucks.

Tendai Mtawarira: 6.5

Like his colleague on the tighthead side, excelled here at his primary, scrummaging trade. Some firm tackles, too, but less visible as a ball-carrier.

Standout substitute:

JP Pietersen: 6    

Experienced customer did his level best to lift Bok backline tempo in last half hour; also streaked away determinedly for late consolation try.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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