The Springboks arrived back home on Sunday evening from their remarkable win over the All Blacks in Wellington.
Having lost to Australia and Argentina in their previous two Rugby Championship matches, the 36-34 victory was unexpected, but a welcome relief for coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi.
Let’s look at how each player performed in our player ratings…
Willie le Roux: 7/10
The heart and skill was back this week, after a forgettable display in Brisbane. Came into the line, took his up-and-unders, mixed things up on attack, tackled relentlessly – even winning a breakdown penalty – and scored a well-taken intercept try. Was a bit unlucky to get a yellow card. Kicked the ball out to end the game!
Jesse Kriel: 6
Good fist of it on defence in the first half, although the ball didn’t really go his way on attack.
Had to move back to outside centre at halftime due to Lukhanyo Am’s injury, and put good pressure on Liam Squire, which led to Anton Lienert-Brown rushing a pass to Rieko Ioane, and Cheslin Kolbe grabbed the intercept try.
Came out of line later, though, which saw Jack Goodhue break the line and Le Roux received a yellow card.
Put pressure on Beauden Barrett in final move that saw Damian McKenzie knock-on.
Lukhanyo Am: 6
Made one sensational turnover at the breakdown. But was caught in no man’s land for the first All Black try by Beauden Barrett.
Cleaned out rucks and a few strong carries, but stayed off at halftime due to injury.
Damian de Allende: 6
Was a solid presence on defence once more, and threw one lovely long pass in front of the Kiwi defence that nearly unlocked a gap out wide.
Was forced off with a shoulder injury early in the second half.
Still needs to be used in a more creative way – he can step and put the wings into space with his passing game.
Aphiwe Dyantyi: 8
Sensational finish for his second try as he left Beauden Barrett for dead with a terrific inside step. Did well to run around all the way to the posts for his first try, and was busy and committed in defence. Made the decisive call to rush out and force the Damian McKenzie knock-on after 17 phases.
Handre Pollard: 7
Slotted most of his goal-kicks, which proved to be the difference in the end. Some good touch-finders under pressure (even though his first kickoff went over the dead-ball line), tackled strongly, even when moving to inside centre when De Allende went off injured.
Faf de Klerk: 7
Largely cut out those handling errors from last week, and a much quicker service from the base. Still needs to work on his distance and tactical kicking. Tremendous commitment in defence throughout.
Warren Whiteley: 8.5
Arguably his best ever Test performance. Apart from his usual high tackle count, Whiteley was a more effective presence on attack – none more so than when he quickly passed to Dyantyi for the left wing’s second try.
Made some enormous cover tackles, in particular on TJ Perenara, and led the side well towards the end when Siya Kolisi was replaced.
Pieter-Steph du Toit: 8
Never stopped running with ball-in-hand, and covered almost every blade of grass in tracking back to make vital tackles.
Put pressure on Anton Lienert-Brown, which saw him throw the intercept pass to Cheslin Kolbe.
Sheer joy of the triumph with tears after the final whistle.
Siya Kolisi: 8
Another busy performance from the Springbok captain. Made some strong runs with ball-in-hand, and marshalled the troops inspirationally in defence.
Had played himself to a standstill by the time he was taken off after the hour mark.
Franco Mostert: 6.5
Was relentless as ever in making tackles, and hit the rucks with relish. Made a game-high 24 tackles – according to the official Sanzar statistics – alongside Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Eben Etzebeth: 6
Perhaps not as industrious as he was against the Wallabies last week, but Etzebeth still took his fair share of lineouts and worked hard at close quarters.
Frans Malherbe: 7
Probably still reminiscing about THAT line-break! Scrummed strongly, and good work-rate around the field.
Malcolm Marx: 7.5
Much better throwing into the lineout, and was a commanding presence with ball-in-hand. Did well to peel away from the maul and score a vital try.
Steven Kitshoff: 8
Brings energy and dynamism to the Bok pack. Powerful scrummaging, massive ball-carries and big hits on defence. Oh – and lovely hands (along with RG Snyman) that kept the continuity going for Dyantyi’s second try.
Thank you SA 🇿🇦🇿🇦🙏🏼🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/MqUcMWQQx6
Stand-out substitute – Elton Jantjies: 8
Came in at a difficult juncture early in the second half when De Allende went off and Pollard had to move to inside centre.
Kicked well out of hand, and brilliantly delayed his pass before floating it to Whiteley, who put Dyantyi away. Also put Malherbe into a gap.