Cape Town – A quite sublime first half from fullback Willie
le Roux will long be remembered as the key nut-cracker to South Africa downing Wales
38-16 and by five tries to one at Kings Park on Saturday.
As it happened: Boks v Wales
The Springboks were far from error-free but -- as is fast
becoming a pleasing norm under the tenure of Heyneke Meyer as coach -- any
shortcomings were easily eclipsed by their collective intensity, work ethic and
professionalism, plus a wonderful relish for exhibiting flair on attack with
the brilliance of Le Roux so often instrumental.
Here’s how I rated
the Boks out of 10:
Willie le Roux: 9
Simply sensational in the Boks’ four-try first period, which
knocked the stuffing from the tourists. Teed up two of them after decisive line
intrusions, and registered a well-deserved own. Also showed great bravery and
assuredness under high balls.
Cornal Hendricks: 7
Very decent Test debut, building on potential shown in the
“friendly” against World XV last week. Positionally sound, alert, and
second-half try was perfect night-cap for him.
JP Pietersen: 7
Still feeling his way, you suspect, in new midfield role,
but arguably did enough to merit the experiment continuing for time being.
Didn’t let any significant traffic through his channel.
Jan Serfontein: 8
Oops, what have you done, Frans Steyn? His much-discussed
walkout led to the former Baby Bok star getting a maiden start ... and
Serfontein was excellent. So much for fears he’d be vulnerable against big
Jamie Roberts: gave robust showing, came within whisker of try after chase over
goal-line, and produced stunning track-back, try-stopping tackle on Dan Biggar.
Bryan Habana: 7.5
Only underlined yet again what a ruthless finisher he is ...
surely one of the all-time greats in that department? Fantastic timing to dot
from Le Roux’s awkward-to-collect “dink”, and earned another touchdown at the
flag in limited space after only 21 minutes.
Morne Steyn: 7
There will be plenty who still insist he’s not the ideal
World Cup man at No 10, but let’s give credit when it’s due: impressive,
assured game from the stalwart. Some snappy passing, solid defence and
customary efficiency off the tee.
Fourie du Preez: 7
Gremlins here and there as the veteran re-adapts to the higher
pace of Test rugby, but probably confirmed he remains SA’s best in the berth.
Sniped cleverly, and more importantly cleared the ball swiftly.
Duane Vermeulen: 7.5
Another thoroughly workmanlike showing from one of Meyer’s
most consistent players in recent times; does much donkeywork beneath the radar
to assist broader pack dominance. Strength on ball near try-line produced
five-pointer to his name.
Willem Alberts: 7
Still goes through certain passages of play a little
anonymously, but when he bursts into action, boy, is he effective and decisive!
Customary handful as a carrier and when he makes a tackle it’s so often a
Francois Louw: 7.5
Played a major role in slowing down – and sometimes turning
over – Welsh ball at rucks, which was just as well because there were times
when the visiting backs looked slippery on the counter. Does well to largely
avoid penalties in his push-the-boundaries open side role ...
Victor Matfield: 7.5
That push for another RWC looks more and more credible,
doesn’t it? Just looks like such a confident, senior figure on the park. Ruled
the skies at lineout time, collected all his kick-offs and made some welcome,
important tackles into the bargain.
Bakkies Botha: 6.5
Not as conspicuous as he was in his storming first half
against the World XV, but must have played vital early role nevertheless in
ensuring Bok scrum had none of its angst suffered last weekend and smashed into
collisions with trademark zeal before making way at the interval.
Jannie du Plessis: 7
Marked down just a tad, in an otherwise satisfying display,
through one or two rather needless off-ball indiscretions. But scrummed
purposefully, carried more than usual, and produced some inspired last-ditch
defence when it was needed.
Bismarck du Plessis:
Back much closer to fiery best after often subdued showing
in Cape Town. Did yeoman work on the deck, though once flirted with a possible
“yellow”: maybe Romain Poite felt he owed him a bit of a favour after events in
Gurthro Steenkamp: 7.5
Justified his 50th-cap appearance as a now-rare
starter with powerful scrum display, and was busy in general play too for his
45 minutes until Boks unleashed the home-town Beast ...
Lood de Jager: 7.5
Awarded the entire second half on debut, the big Cheetahs
lock pleasingly repaid the faith placed in him ... and then some. Marvellously
physical and combative showing: strong drives and tackles, and aided perpetual lineout
pressure on Welsh throw.
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