Sat, 19 Sep 2020

Bok ratings: Give that No 9 ... a nine!

21 Jul 2019, 05:42 GMT+10

Cape Town - Hairy moments in the first half ... but a classy, increasingly clinical and dominant closing out of the game.

That probably summed up a broadly feel-good performance by experimental South Africa as they outclassed Australia by a comprehensive 35-17 score-line in the Rugby Championship encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The bonus-point triumph served notice of decent Bok depth - and hunger from both young and old - in World Cup year, and they will move onto the taxing New Zealand challenge in Wellington next weekend with a spring in the step.

Not averse to being at odds with the official player-of-the-match verdict in previous Bok Tests, Sport24 nevertheless found it a formality here to concur with Saturday's laurel to nippy, thoroughly inspiring scrumhalf debutant Herschel Jantjies ...

Here's how I rated the Boks at Ellis Park:

Warrick Gelant: 7

Overcooked a touch-finder early on, but that didn't deter the slippery fullback. Some pleasing intrusions into the line, deft use of his swerve, and a broad sense that he wanted to help boss things strategically. Important tackle on a marauding Michael Hooper late in contest.

S'bu Nkosi: 6.5

Had some second-fiddle moments in high-ball contests with his marker, the Aussies' 1.91m Reece Hodge. But otherwise showed composure and constructive energy, including in issuing final pass for scrumhalf Jantjies' first try ... and later getting in that column himself.

Jesse Kriel: 6

Did little wrong, though also no special own potency on attack. Made his tackles, and engineered one alert poach in second half.

Andre Esterhuizen: 5

Not all bad, but one of the less accomplished Bok performers on a collectively vibrant day. Sterling yards in lead-up to first Bok try, though blotted copybook with rash high tackle that led to sin-binning (period when Wallabies cashed in with a dot-down).

Makazole Mapimpi: 6

Despite conceding five tries, Wallaby defence was outstandingly resolute and organised at times ... and they'd clearly done their homework on the hot-stepper; space seldom opened up for him. Brave last-ditch Mapimpi tackle very nearly thwarted a flying Dane Haylett-Petty en route to his try. Maybe lured infield a tad too much on defence ...

Elton Jantjies: 6.5

Streets better than on his last start for Boks on SA soil, in the slush against England in Cape Town last year. Didn't immediately dictate, but conviction soared as game progressed. Goaled every one of five conversions and missed just one, longish-range penalty which fell short. Defence also seemed to get progressively steelier; some unsung, brave interventions in second half.

Herschel Jantjies: 9

Utterly rousing debut. Began Test life with a well-weighted box kick, and things just mushroomed in all the right ways for the Stormers' pocket dynamo from there. Great anticipation, assured handling, gutsy defence ... and, especially importantly, a fine service and wonderful sniping/linking. His second try was a blind-side beauty, one for any tries-of-the-season compilation video.

Francois Louw: 8.5

Those inclined to believe the Bath-based, seasoned campaigner was a spent force internationally would have been forced to think again, and then some: this turned out to be perhaps one of his best showings in all 66 Tests. Constant menace over the ball - including steal to initiate first Bok try - and also vitally helped slow down some Aussie recycles at a time when Bok defence was routinely being stretched in first period.

Pieter-Steph du Toit: 7.5

When Du Toit gets involved in play, it is so often to profound effect - certainly was the case again here. Made some crunching tackles (though he was a little at fault in one Wallaby breakout for an eventually disallowed try through forward pass) and even one memorable, unusual - for him - deft chip ahead after a personal rampage, shortly preceding Lood de Jager's try.

Rynhardt Elstadt: 6.5

Obvious relish for his maiden Bok appearance, and customary earthy physicality wasn't always matched by precision, at least initially. But he was getting increasingly assertive before his replacement (by Marcell Coetzee) right on hour mark ... and also kept his sometimes costly temper admirably in check.

Lood de Jager: 6.5

Credible showing for someone who has had only had some 50 minutes (last weekend) of Currie Cup action after a few months' layoff. Bagged seven lineouts - more than anyone in the Test - but guilty of one rare aerial fumble that led to turnover and another slightly inaccurate provision of the ball to his scrumhalf.

Eben Etzebeth: 7

First half seemed to confirm that he's been short of a recent gallop. But that valued engine of his warmed up very nicely in second 40. Produced important pass out of a tackle in lead-up to Nkosi's try, and made great ground for one key cover tackle on the touchline. Captained the cause coolly.

Trevor Nyakane: 6.5

As the all-important tighthead anchor-man, must take credit for a dominant Bok performance at that set-piece, even if Boks might want a bit more of his carrying potential to come to the fore next time.

Bongi Mbonambi: 5.5

Typically tigerish a lot of the time, though generally a bit short of his A-game here and lineout throwing didn't always go meticulously to plan. Leaked an off-side penalty.

Tendai Mtawarira: 6.5

Was a little quieter than usual in open play; the "Beaaast" chant was seldom summoned on the stands. But the 108-capper pulled his weight at scrum time -- including a killer personal shove just before his substitution in 48th minute - and had a build-up hand in first SA try.

Standout substitute:

Frans Steyn: 7.5

Welcome back, big guy ... the hefty utility back earned 28 minutes in the second half (his first appearance in just over two years for the Boks) and oozed directness, urgency and raw power in the inside centre channel, including giving flyhalf Jantjies renewed confidence nearby. That said, most of the reserves contributed quite fulsomely.

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