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Player Ratings: South Africa

OPINION: The Springboks were not at their best in their World Cup opener against Scotland on Sunday, but they still managed to outplay Gregor Townsend’s side with their powerful forwards.


A key feature of South Africa’s 18-3 win was their defence. Jacques Nienaber’s side kept Scotland tryless during the 80 minutes and that is a big feat considering the speed and skill the Scots possess out wide.

Check out the Player Ratings below:

15 Damian Willemse
He was solid at the back and that is what you want from your fullback. He wasn’t as dangerous with the ball in hand as in previous games, but he did keep the Scottish defence guessing on a few occasions. Some of his kicks out of hand left much to be desired.

14 Kurt-Lee Arendse
He didn’t get as much ball as he would have liked, but when he had it the Scottish defenders looked worried. His positioning on the field to gather the ball from a Manie Libbok kick pass and race away for a try was excellent. The speedster was also a key player when it came to applying pressure under the high balls. He also produced some great rush defence to thwart a dangerous-looking Scottish attack in the 27th minute.

13 Jesse Kriel
His primary job in the backline was to marshal the defence and he did a good job. He applied the rush defence well, but at one stage he got caught in no-man’s land when he used it, which nearly led to a try for Scotland.

12 Damian de Allende
His workrate with ball in hand was incredible in this match. In fact, he carried the ball more than any other player on the field and he made some serious metres. It often took two or three Scottish defenders to bring him down.


11 Cheslin Kolbe
His defensive play was at the forefront today. Some of that great defence in the 24th minute led to a penalty and he was integral when it came to covering kicks well. His speed helped prevent a 50-22 in the first half. He also showed how dangerous he can be with ball in hand with a great clean break late in the second half.

10 Manie Libbok
No doubt there will be a spotlight on his goal-kicking in the media in the coming days as he left some points out there. He produced a try-saving tackle on the half-hour mark on Darcy Graham and he showed skill with a no-look kick pass with the ball being gathered by Kurt-Lee Arendse to race away for a try. However, for large periods of the game, it was all a bit predictable on attack and his kicking game was a mixed bag as well.

9 Faf de Klerk
You just wanted him to speed things up a bit, especially in the first half when the Boks found themselves in Scotland’s half on numerous occasions. Like Libbok, it might have been a bit predictable, but he hardly made mistakes and that conversion in the 52nd minute was a thing of beauty.

8 Jasper Wiese
It was an outstanding shift from the No.8. He was powerful in all areas of the game. An excellent counter-ruck in the second half led to a turnover in the build-up to Kurt-Lee Arendse’s try. He was also a colossus on defence with some big hits.


7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
His physical presence in the pack was key in this match. He kept the Scottish big boys busy around the rucks and in the mauls and played his role well in the line-outs. The big man showed his power to drive over the tryline in the 47th minute.

6 Siya Kolisi (captain)
It was a satisfactory performance from the leader. He got things going in the opening minutes with great hand-off on Duhan van der Merwe. He got his team over the gain line with each of his carries and he was rock solid on defence as well. The captain also forced a penalty at the breakdown in the 64th minute.

5 Franco Mostert
He is just a workhorse all around the park and that is why he is a prominent figure in the matchday squad. He set the tone with the rush defence when he applied pressure on Finn Russell’s clearance kick in the first minute. He was key in the line-outs as well, especially when Eben Etzebeth had to leave the field early in the game.

4 Eben Etzebeth
There will be some concern among Springbok fans after he was replaced by RG Snyman in the 26th minute. While he was on the field, he did put Scotland under pressure in a few line-outs. He was also solid on defence and he showed his awareness by charging down a Scottish kick.

3 Frans Malherbe
It was a bit of a mixed bag for the big man in the scrums, especially in the first half. He won a scrum penalty against Pierre Schoeman in the 10th minute, but then he gave away a free-kick and two penalties later in the half. The last one allowed Finn Russell to give his team three points just before the break. He was more solid in the opening minutes of the second half. He also showed some silky passing skills when the Boks were on attack in the second 40.

2 Malcolm Marx
He is one of the best in the business when it comes to winning turnovers at the breakdown. He won a penalty in 24th minute, which led to three points. The hooker won another turnover later in the first half when his team was under pressure. With some tall timber in the second row, he found his jumpers in the line-outs as well.

1 Steven Kitshoff
He did miss a couple of tackles, which he won’t be happy with but he made up for it with a solid performance on his side of the scrum. He would have loved to put his opponent under more pressure in that area of the game but he certainly softened him up for Ox Nche in the second half. He played a key role in Du Toit’s try by blocking some defenders.


16 Bongi Mbonambi (On for Malcolm Marx, 49th minute and then 56th minute)
He came on for Malcolm Marx a few times before he was a permanent replacement in the 56th minute. His line-out throwing didn’t look as assured as Marx’s and he was pinged for a skew throw-in the 61st minute.

17 Ox Nche (On for Steven Kitshoff, 53rd minute)
He put Zander Fagerson under immediate pressure in his first scrum which led to a penalty. Scotland decided to bring on WP Nel after that and he was also destroyed by Nche in a couple of scrums.

18 Trevor Nyakane (On for Frans Malherbe, 53rd minute)
He was an immovable object in the scrums when he came onto the field and he helped his team get that forward dominance that was needed in the second half.

19 RG Snyman (On for Eben Etzebeth, 26th minute)
He had to make the step up when Eben Etzebeth left the field in the first half with an injury. It was probably some much-needed game time as well and he can be proud of the shift he put in. His passing was excellent for a big and he produced a great offload to Frans Malherbe early in the second half to put the big prop into space.

20 Marco van Staden (On for Siya Kolisi, 65th minute)
It was not the most impressive of cameos, but he didn’t have to do much with his tight five carrying the Boks to victory.

21 Duane Vermeulen (On for Jasper Wiese, 60th minute
He delivered some big hits on defence and brought some aggression when he arrived on the field.

22 Grant Williams (On for Faf de Klerk, 75 minute)
Not enough time to be rated.

23 Willie le Roux (On for Manie Libbok, 69th minute)
Not enough time to be rated.

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