Cape Town - At least it is all over.
As it happened: Wales v Springboks
Perhaps the most wretched Springbok
calendar year of the post-1991 era ended with an almost inevitable whimper on
Saturday as they succumbed by a clear-cut 27-13 even to relatively humdrum
Wales in Cardiff.
Coach Allister Coetzee finished 2016 with a
four from 12 Test record, the kind of statistic many earlier Bok generations
would brand dismally unforgivable, although at the time of writing he had seemed
just about defiant enough in his desire to stay put into next year - like it or
His charges showed patches of improved
general pace and intensity in this match … but only patches.
In between, some of the mistakes, wrong
options or instances of rank indecision were contagious, and utterly deflating
to already gatvol supporters.
Again, too, collective body language turned
obviously fragile as it became apparent there was no real clue among the
troops, from their leader down, about how to claw back a significant deficit of
20-6 early in the second half.
“These were nervous players, insecure about
themselves, and the game-plan,” lamented Nick Mallett in what became simply another examination of a corpse in the
SuperSport studio afterwards.
There were certain, very isolated examples
of individual redemption, as evidenced below.
how I rated the Boks out of 10 in Cardiff:
Only made the dropping of Willie le Roux
after Florence look that much more insane. So clearly a fish out of water at No
15, and easily dispossessed or driven back a couple of times through poor
technique with ball in hand or predictable run angles. One or two good
right-footed relieving kicks under pressure.
Unfortunate early fumble seemed to only set
tone for others to follow suit … and there were other spillages and wider
gremlins from him. Has lost mojo considerably in late season.
As with Combrinck, hands looked fallible at
times, though he did produce moments of purpose and directness on attack, and
at least kept going …
Janse van Rensburg: 4.5
Very early on, offered some welcome
go-forward with his bustling strength. But he was also inexplicably skipped too
many times in passing moves, negating his value. And even this powerhouse once
had the ball wrestled from his clutches.
You can’t be too harsh when so little
opportunity is provided for his lanky legs to get into full stride in an
attacking sense. Yet general callowness also apparent at left wing. Jury stays
Will have to make up much ground in a Lions
jersey next year to prove he actually has what it takes at the superior level
after numerous chances. Game management almost non-existent. Had a chip charged
down, nearly causing problems at other end of the park, and other fancy dinks also
bore little fruit. Some brave tackles.
de Klerk: 3.5
Always a big heart … but is that enough in
the unforgiving world of Test rugby? Just seems too frantic, gets bounced around
like a rag doll at close quarters, and made some awful, ball-frittering kicks.
Did gutsily field a high bomb or two, even if that’s hardly meant to be a core
area for him. Expensive yellow-card for cynical knock-down.
Really forgettable first half, but did stir
more significantly after break when his industry improved markedly. Some alert
defending, but unusually for him lost a lineout ball on Bok throw-in.
Let’s not get too carried away … this was
no genuinely “dream” debut. But considering the mass under-performance going on
around him, the blindside flank’s first Test start was commendable. He grafted
honestly in unglamorous areas, tackled and carried willingly, and was fitting
scorer of the lone, industrial Bok try.
Nope, it’s just not working for him on the
open-side flank. Remains more of an impact-type No 8 off the “splinters”,
de Jager: 3.5
Looked listless, damagingly error-prone and
sometimes tetchy, which set bad example to colleagues. Have said this before,
but not a patch on the constantly energetic, bruising RWC 2015 figure.
du Toit: 5.5
Sometimes gets into defensive difficulty
out of position … but maybe that’s only because he’s at least willing to leave
his comfort zone to aid the cause out wide when they’re in perilous positions?
Grafted spiritedly, won a maul turnover and was game’s top tackler, according
to stats, in first period.
There have been Bok tightheads with greater
mongrel outside the set-piece, I’m sure, but at least his core right-shoulder
trade was performed with some aplomb.
On his swansong, both as Bok player and
captain, you might have wished for a barn-stormer. It didn’t come. Efficient
enough at staple duties, but couldn’t inspire his troops in any animated way.
Extremely secure at scrum-time, and put
himself about the park. Turned over once on drive, however.
Kitshoff and Piet van Zyl: 5.5
Kitshoff continued to ensure Boks earned
scrum ascendancy when he appeared in 59th minute, whilst the 15
minutes at scrumhalf for Van Zyl did seem to engineer better thrust from there.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing