Tuesday 21 October 2014

A report card for the Springboks

Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Published 10/07/2009 | 13:18

Morne Steyn of South Africa is mobbed by his team mates after kicking the match and series winning penalty during the Second Test match between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions. Photo: Alex Livesey, Getty Images

Some were good, some were bad and some were just plain average. Rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen rates the Springboks after their 2-1 series win over the Lions.





Gold



Bryan Habana: He was decent in his two Tests but, like all the backs, saw precious little front foot ball. He defended well and scored a quite sensational try at Loftus, beating several defenders on his way to the tryline.



JP Pietersen: As was the case with all the wings, he got few opportunities to shine, but he always looked for work and chased the ball. He scored a wonderful try, much like Habana's, in the second Test.

Morne Steyn: The Bulls star enjoyed a good series, with his accurate goal-kicking in the second Test the difference between the Boks winning and losing the series.



Fourie du Preez: What more can one say about the guy? His service was excellent and so, too, his kicking game.



Juan Smith: He was not as visible around the field as he usually is, but did plenty of the donkey work in the tight exchanges. He took plenty of lineout ball and put in some telling tackles.



Victor Matfield: Much was expected of his one-on-one battle with Paul O'Connell, but nothing came of the duel because Matfield reigned supreme.



Bakkies Botha: The enforcer in the pack caused all sorts of problems for the Lions and his absence in the third Test was telling.



John Smit: Led the team well, on and off the field. He calmed the nerves when things got tough and his performance at tighthead prop was commendable.



Beast Mtawarira: The Lions lost the series in the opening 60 minutes of the first Test. Beast demolished Phil Vickery in the scrums in Durban, allowing the Boks to build up a handsome lead. Game over.



Silver



Frans Steyn: Was okay in last line of defence, but unconvincing under high ball. Kicked well, however, best showing with ball in hand coming in closing minutes of third Test.



Odwa Ndungane: Should have been awarded a try in the final Test, but TMO ruled he'd put a foot in touch. In his only Test of the series, tried hard to make an impression; but never saw quality ball.



Jean de Villiers: As most of the action was up front, the midfield maestro never got a chance to run at the Lions. Missed a few tackles, but saved a try in first Test when he got his arm under the ball when Ugo Monye crossed.



Jaque Fourie: Sat on bench for two Tests when he should have started. Scored a wonderful try late in the second half at Loftus to get Boks back into game. Had little opportunity to display attacking prowess in his only start in third Test.



Ruan Pienaar: Kicked superbly in first Test and looked the part in No 10 jersey. However, failed to back up that showing in second Test when his pack was going backwards. He also kicked poorly at Loftus.



Pierre Spies: Little opportunity for him to make an impression. Matches were all contested at close quarters, but he never stopped working and showed he can get stuck in if he wants to.



Heinrich Brussow: Did a lot of hard work on the ground, slowed down Lions ball and scored good try after a rare Bok maul in Durban. More quiet in third Test, but showed he can play at this level.



Bismarck du Plessis: Performed primary tasks well - throwing into lineout and scrumming - was less effective in open play. Still needs to work on his discipline.



Bronze



Zane Kirchner: Not fair to judge a player's ability on one game. Everyone knows he's the real deal. Made a few mistakes in his first Test, but little opportunity to put all his skill on display.



Jongi Nokwe: Can't help it that the ball never came his way in the third Test.



Adrian Jacobs: Far from best form and allowed Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll too much space in first Test. Better at Loftus, fighting hard to hang on to No 13 jersey.



Wynand Olivier: Tried hard to breach gain line in only Test start in Jhb, guilty of hanging on to ball. Threw perfect pass, led to Monye try.



Ricky Januarie: He made a brief appearance in first Test, didn't do much, and was not seen again.



Ryan Kankowski: Had a great opportunity to make a big impression in third Test, but didn't live up to expectation.



Schalk Burger: Made only one appearance, in Loftus Test, yellow carded and banned for "eye-gouging". A series to be forgotten.



Danie Rossouw: The super-sub failed to make an impact; instead being knocked out by O'Driscoll in Loftus Test.



Andries Bekker: Some telling tackles in first Test when he replaced Botha, but otherwise quiet.



Johann Muller: Had big chance to get back into Bok squad on full-time basis when he replaced Botha for third Test. Did little to convince he is next in line to wear No 4 jersey.



Deon Carstens: Who? Why was he even part of the squad?



Gurthro Steenkamp: Made a brief appearance off the bench in final Test, but that was it.



Chiliboy Ralepelle: Exposed in the scrums in third Test, did little else to convince he is country's second best hooker.

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