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Player Ratings: So close

OPINION:  The Springboks’ hopes of ending the November tour unbeaten was dashed by England on Saturday at Twickenham.


The English scored three converted tries and two penalty goals – while Makazole Mapimpi dotted down his 20th try for the Boks, with Handre Pollard (five), Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn contributing the rest of the points via penalty goals.

Leezil Hendricks rates the South African players! 

15 Willie le Roux
Collected the ball from the kick-offs and was brave under high-ball on a couple of occasions but Bok supporters will be asking for more from the fullback. He saved a try in the opening minutes. However, he was again exploited in defence. Le Roux was replaced by Frans Steyn.

14 Jesse Kriel
His performance was average however he ran really hard when he had an opportunity. In defence,  was forced to scramble across on a couple of occasions. While in the opening minutes England’s wing Jonny May got the better of him.

13 Lukhanyo Am
It will be a match Am would want to forget. Aside from his try-scoring pass to Makazole Mapimpi, the usually a very sound defender, had a horrendous display in defence. He found himself in noman’s land on a couple of occasions and missed a curial tackle on Joe Marchant, which led to England’s third try. He seems a bit frazzled on attack as well.

12 Damian de Allende
One of the best performers in the backline. He made robust runs which got him over the gain line. He did miss a couple of tackles, but he made up for it with some big hits, including a great try-saving on Max Malins and made a good steal inside the Boks’ 22.


11 Makazole Mapimpi
He scored the team’s only try against a 14-man England side.  He was not spectacular however he look to get involved. However, unlike last week he failed to be a threat under the high ball, while his tackling left him down.

10 Handré Pollard
He kicked the ball away when his team were in good attacking positions. An example of this was in the 25th minute in the face of a massive overlap he opted for a cross-kick instead of running the ball. His performance from the tee in the first half was solid keeping the Boks in the game. However, the second half saw him miss two penalties which proved to be crucial in the context of the game.

9 Cobus Reinach
He finally got a start and it was not the best performance from the scrumhalf.  He made a couple of good snipes and delivered one or two good box kicks, which put England under pressure but made a couple of poor decisions on the attack.

8 Duane Vermeulen
Unlike his teammates, No.8 brought physicality from the start with a big hit in the opening minutes.  He was a nuisance at the breakdowns and made a couple of good carries. Also a prominent figure at the line-outs and set up a few good drives.


7 Albertus Smith
He had a very quiet first half. However, he tried to get involved in the second half. Made one or two good runs, but butchered a try in the second half. Was replaced by Jasper Wiese.

6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain)
Just like Kwagga Smith, the captain was missing for the first half. He got into the game in the second half. There were also a few occasions when England found it hard to bring down when he had the ball in hand. He was also handed a yellow card in the closing minutes of the match.

5 Lodewyk de Jager
A very industrious performance by the lock and managed to secure a couple of line-outs. Not as physical as usual in open play, by his standards.


4 Eben Etzebeth

He continues to be one of the Springboks’ most consistent performances throughout the 2021 season. He was a monster in defence and his charge down on Ben Youngs in the 59th minute was also crucial. The lock also made a great steal inside his own five in closing minutes. His break in the last quarter of the match was a highlight. Very unfortunate not to be nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year.

3 Trevor Nyakane
Conceded two early scrum penalties which handed England loads of confidence. It was not an ideal performance by the prop, especially in defence.

2 Mbongeni Mbonambi
His line-out throwing in the first quarter was very efficient. However, lost his rhythm and cohesion along the way. He struggled at scrum time.

1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
He had a much better game than his front row counterparts. He was solid defence and made a big hit on Bevan Rodd inside the Boks’ 22. He also won a scrum penalty just after the break before being replaced in the 44th minute.


16 Malcolm Marx (On for Mbonambi, 44th minutes)
The Hooker immediate made an impact with a big hit on Kyle Sinckler resulting in a penalty for the Boks. His work rate at the breakdown was immense – creating a couple of turnovers.

17 Steven Kitshoff (On for Trevor Nyakane, 44th minutes)

Like last week against Scotland, the prop was yet again a prominent figure in South Africa’s scrum dominance in the second half and he carried really well.

18 Vincent Koch (On for Retshegofaditswe Nché.44th minutes)
His role in the set pieces, like the rest of the front row, was valuable. Had a handful of carries and was solid on defence.

19 Franco Mostert (On for de Jager, 63 minutes)
He helped the Boks find their rhythm in the line-outs, while his workrate is always impressive, especially on defence

20 Jasper Wiese (On for Smith, 63 minutes)
Not much of an impact but made a couple of noteworthy runs.

21 Herschel Jantjies (On for Reinach, 65th minutes)
His decision-making was not great and his service continues to be a concern.

22 Elton Jantjies (On for Handre Pollard, 54th minute)
Nothing spectacular, he missed a kick from the tee, but was solid.

23 Francois Steyn (On for Wille Le Roux. 50th minues)
The longest-serving Springbok attempt a drop goal however it shifted wide from the post. He eventually handed the Boks the lead with a penalty. Unfortunately, an error in the dying minutes eclipsed all his hard work.


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