Player ratings: 'Madiba magic'
“Madiba magic” had a greater effect on some of the Springboks than others in the record 73-13 thrashing of the Pumas in Soweto on Saturday.
They took some time to get going, but once they found their rhythm there was no stopping the Springboks as they got their Rugby Championship campaign off to a flyer.
It wasn’t a flawless performance by any means, but the nine-try hammering highlighted how far the Springboks have come since the last time the teams met in the 16-all draw in Mendoza last year.
Quintin van Jaarsveld rates the Springbok players.
15 Willie le Roux
Came into his own as the match progressed but his shaky first 30 minutes must be a concern for Heyneke Meyer. Gained confidence when he chipped for JJ Engelbrecht to run in a try and kicked on from there but tried to be too “cute” on occasions when simple passes would have been sufficient. Overall, a good offensive outing.
14 Bjorn Basson
Another underwhelming Test. Chased well but didn’t bring anything special to the table.
13 JJ Engelbrecht
His blistering acceleration and hard-running had the Pumas at sixes and sevens and hinted at a long and successful Test career.
12 Jean de Villiers (captain)
A strong performance by the Springbok skipper. Made ample metres in midfield, was resolute on defence, communicated well with the referee and bagged a trademark intercept try.
11 Bryan Habana
Butchered a try early in the second half but his workrate and kick-chasing, as always, were of the highest order and he got his try in the end.
10 Morné Steyn
An accomplished all-round performance. Not only kicked brilliantly at goal but proved to his detractors that he’s not just a kicking flyhalf as he got his backline firing on all cylinders.
9 Ruan Pienaar
Very lively, much quicker to the breakdown and good decision-making. Solid in all departments.
8 Duane Vermeulen
A beast with ball in hand and made some hard hits. However, his rustiness after a lengthy injury-enforced layoff was evident under the high ball as he dropped three up-and-unders.
7 Willem Alberts
His workrate was rather disappointing considering the amount of ground he was able to make when he did carry the ball.
6 Francois Louw
Like Alberts, he could have made a few more ball carries but he was good on the ground and tireless on defence.
5 Juandré Kruger
Dominated the line-out following Patricio Albacete’s early injury-enforced departure and subsequently channelled a lot of his energy into general play. Made a crucial turnover inside the 22 and a fair amount of tackles.
4 Eben Etzebeth
A near unstoppable force with ball in hand, swatting would-be defenders aside with relative ease. A dependable target and stole one against the throw at line-out time. Worryingly, though, his fiery temper reared its ugly head again.
3 Jannie du Plessis
Anchored the scrum with aplomb. Like Etzebeth, guilty of ill discipline when he cleaned out a player from the side.
2 Adriaan Strauss
With Bismarck du Plessis back to full fitness, Strauss had a point to prove and he did exactly that with a man of the match performance. His set-piece play was exemplary and a strong leg drive saw him power over from the driving maul. However, it’s his workrate and prominence as a ball carrier that were most impressive.
1 Tendai Mtawarira
Took his young foe Matias Diaz to school at scrum time.
16 Bismarck du Plessis (on for Strauss, 54th minute)
Stayed hot on Strauss’ heels with his strength and explosiveness.
17 Gurthrö Steenkamp (on for Mtawarira, 57th minute)
Struggled somewhat with the new scrum sequence.
18 Coenie Oosthuizen (on for Du Plessis, 54th minute)
Kept up his side of the scrum but one has to question the decision to have two specialist looseheads on the bench.
19 Flip van der Merwe (on for Kruger, 57th minute)
Brought more physicality to the mix.
20 Siya Kolisi (on for Alberts, 64th minute)
Not enough time to be rated.
21 Fourie du Preez (on for Pienaar, 54th minute)
Simply sublime. Pienaar did little wrong but the manner in which the pace and fluency of the Springbok game improved once the veteran came on was eye-opening. His vision hasn’t diminished – as he showed with the cut out pass for Habana’s try – his speed to the breakdown was impressive and his distribution spot on.
22 Pat Lambie (on for Le Roux, 58th minute)
Asked plenty of questions of the Pumas defence in an exciting cameo.
23 Jan Serfontein (on for De Villiers, 67th minute)
Not enough time to be rated.