As the dust settles on another weekend of what might have been for Bok fans, we’ve ranted and raved about which players look set for a starting berth at the World Cup. The thing is we all have our favourites, and sometimes we tend to be a little skewed in how we assess individual performances.
Ruan Pienaar, for example, readies himself for another box kick and I’m already swearing like a sailor at the TV before he has put boot to ball. That’s why it sometimes pays to get an objective point of view on such matters, with Kiwi journalist Chris Rattue rating our boys as follows for the NZ Herald:
Willie le Roux 7 – Constant threat, fine try, and heavily involved although not a great tackle effort on Coles
Cornal Hendricks 5 – Late replacement showed little to suggest he is in original selection JP Pietersen’s league.
Jesse Kriel 8 – Maybe some defensive questions but made and created tries in superb test. The Boks have found a centre pairing with big future.
Damian de Allende 8 – Power game and loads of defence…making the most of Jean de Villiers’ absence.
Bryan Habana 6 – A few good touches but certainly not the Habana of old.
Handre Pollard 7 – Ran to the line, gorgeous work for Kriel try. The Boks faded again though and so did he.
Ruan Pienaar 7 – Has all the skills but another Springboks fade is a worry.
Schalk Burger 9 – Matched Read and McCaw and clever ball work. Late life captaincy and No. 8 jersey suits.
Francois Louw 5 – Injury troubled perhaps and not a big influence.
Heinrich Brussow 7 – Punched above his weight, but the Boks still might have needed more punch from their loosies.
Lood de Jager 8 – Big game from Victor Matfield stand-in, from lineouts to crunching the ball up. Millimetres away from crucial try.
Eben Etzebeth 7 – Good tough game from the senior lock, at 23.
Jannie du Plessis 5 – Strong start but injured on half hour and departed early.
Bismarck du Plessis 7 – This is the real Beast, but mighty showing hurt by three costly lineout misfires.
Tendai Mtawarira 6 – Good solid performance without living up to the imposing Beast name.
Now I won’t give you the All Blacks’ ratings but we stack up pretty well with those starting XV’s ratings. It is a different story altogether when we look at the bench though:
Adriaan Strauss (Mtawarira, 69m) 3 – Called upon in strange uncontested scrum bizzo but offered no attack.
Trevor Nyakane (Koch, 61m) 3 – His fault? Bizarre…his lack of tighthead ability cost the Boks via Golden Oldies scrum rule.
Vincent Koch (J. du Plessis, 41m) 4 – Some decent work but butchered two try chances.
Flip van der Merwe (de Jager, 59m) 4 – Close to anonymous.
Warren Whiteley (Louw, 42m) 4 – Disappointing.
Cobus Reinach (Pienaar, 74m) Not Rated – A forward pass his only contribution.
Pat Lambie (le Roux, 62m) 3 – No matchwinning heroics or anything much else this time.
Lionel Mapoe (Kriel, 77m) Not Rated – Token gesture.
Those numbers make for depressing reading, and even if you don’t agree with some of those harsh scores it is clear there is a lack of depth in key areas. We may be carrying some injuries to vital players but, when you fail to close out a lead in the final ten minutes for two weeks in succession, certain questions must be asked.
On the plus side that centre pairing is looking downright delightful and Schalk skippering from eight was a sight to behold (minus the ‘should we shouldn’t we’ three points blunder). Here’s hoping we can drill the Pumas and get back to winning ways before we make our way over to play in the sport’s biggest trophy.
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