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Springbok player ratings: Frans Steyn, Makazole Mapimpi stand tall in Cardiff

The South Africa team line up for the national anthem ahead of their Test match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night. Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

The South Africa team line up for the national anthem ahead of their Test match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night. Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Nov 6, 2021


Cape Town – The Springboks finally ended their Cardiff hoodoo with a gutsy 23-18 victory over Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday night.

Siya Kolisi’s team pulled off the first Bok win in the Welsh capital since 2013, when Jean de Villiers’ side won 24-15.

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Here is how we rated the Boks in the rain…

Damian Willemse: Not long enough to be rated

Had to leave the field within the first 15 minutes after taking a knock to the head, and was replaced by Frans Steyn. Claimed his first high ball confidently, but was unable to secure a kickoff after a short Wales kickoff was tapped back by opposite number Johnny McNicholl.

Jesse Kriel: 6

Didn’t have too many opportunities to run with the ball, but did a lot of cleaning up at the back, and brought good line-speed to the Bok defensive effort.

Lukhanyo Am: 7

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Revived memories of his famous contribution to Makazole Mapimpi’s try in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final with a chip down the left that almost led to another touchdown. Organised the Bok defence well, but didn’t have the ball too often on attack.

Damian de Allende: 8

Damian de Allende of South Africa is supported by midfield partner Lukhanyo Am during their Test match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday. Photo: Aled Llywelyn/Huw Evans/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Produced a devastating line-break in the first half, but was just a bit too late with his pass to Herschel Jantjies. Put his body on the line by running into the red Welsh defensive wall time and again, and made a number of tackles too.

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Makazole Mapimpi: 8

Chased every type of Bok kick with great energy, and contested for possession courageously in the air. Thought he scored a wonderful try that was started by a Cobus Reinach line-break, but the referee ruled it out due to offside. Won the ball from a box-kick that led to the penalty that was kicked out to the corner, to set up the lineout for the winning try from a maul.

Handre Pollard: 7

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Handre Pollard of South Africa kicks a penalty to level the score at 15-15 during their Test match against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday. Photo: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

A much better outing for the Bok flyhalf. Pollard had more spark on attack than in previous games as he looked to find space out wide with either a pass or with the boot. He also ran hard at the advantage line himself on occasion, and kicked excellently to the posts in driving rain in Cardiff.

Herschel Jantjies: 4

Made a good dart around the fringes early on, but his decision-making and execution let him down on the night. Missed opportunities to attack when the Boks had a penalty advantage by opting for a box-kick. Also didn’t get enough height and distance on his box-kicks, although the rain and slippery surface made things difficult.

Duane Vermeulen: 7

Jumped well in the lineouts, and pushed hard for turnovers at the breakdowns as well. Carried the ball strongly into contact, and would have been part of the decision to go for touch that led to Malcolm Marx’s match-winning try.

Kwagga Smith: 6

Contested the breakdowns with great eagerness, and used his speed across the ground cleverly to pick up the scraps around the field.

Siya Kolisi (captain): 7

Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit comes up against Siya Kolisi of South Africa during their Test match at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday. Photo: Ryan Hiscott/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

A busy display from the Bok skipper. Kolisi was a huge presence in defence, getting around the pitch to hunt down Welsh runners. Had a terrific carry in the first half, and was always a willing runner at close quarters. Chose to have a few penalties kicked into the corner for lineouts instead of attempting to go for the three points, but Wales were able to stop a number of mauls.

Lood de Jager: 7

Was an assured supply of clean lineout ball for the Boks to maul and attack from, and kept hitting the rucks and running hard at the Welsh defence.

Eben Etzebeth: 8

Never stopped charging at the Welsh defence with ball-in-hand, despite getting medical treatment a few times. Was a colossus in defence as well, and delivered a try-scoring inside pass to Makazole Mapimpi, but the touchdown was ruled out for offside by the referee.

Trevor Nyakane: 7

Made a superb steal on the ground early on, and carried the ball with energy. Shrugged off a blow to his leg that needed medical treatment to stand strong in the scrums.

Bongi Mbonambi: 7

His lineout-throwing was accurate, and he kept good control of the ball at the back of the maul. Was his usual busy self in the tight-loose on attack and defence, as well as in the scrums.

Ox Nche: 6

Put in some powerful runs, made his tackles, contested the breakdowns and was part of a strong Bok scrum. But was yellow-carded for the Boks’ repeated infringements following an off-the-ball obstruction on Wales centre Nick Tompkins.

Best replacements:

Malcolm Marx: 8

Built on Mbonambi’s solid start by continuing with the good lineout throws, and worked hard to get the driving maul moving forward. Maintained the scrum dominance, and crowned off a typically combative performance by scoring the winning try off a lineout maul.

Cobus Reinach: 8

Provided a quicker scrumhalf service from the base, while his box-kicks were on the money too. Pulled off a scintillating run from inside his own 22 that almost led to a try for Makazole Mapimpi, but which was ruled out as the referee felt the Boks were offside from a Reinach box-kick.

Frans Steyn: 9

Came on after about 15 minutes for the injured Willemse at fullback, and made a similar impact to the last victory over the All Blacks in Australia. Used his cannon boot to good effect to get the Boks out of trouble, and blasted over a 55-metre penalty as well. Also breached the Welsh defence with an outstanding line-break when he shaped to kick.


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