CAPE TOWN – The Springboks got the job done by dispatching Argentina 34-21 in their Rugby Championship opener in Durban at the weekend.
But while the Boks did well to score six tries and grab a bonus-point win, there were a number of mistakes made as the hosts trailed 14-10 at halftime.
We took a closer look and rated the South Africans…
Willie le Roux – 6.5 out of 10:
Failed to field a high ball on his own line, and it led to a try by Nicolas Sanchez. Was brought in as the first receiver on a number of occasions, and the ‘second flyhalf’ ploy didn’t really work. But when he did operate as a fullback on attack, brought good spark and variety, and set up one of Aphiwe Dyantyi’s tries with a clever chip.
Makazole Mapimpi (7):
Made some lightning runs down the unfamiliar right wing (he plays on the left for the Sharks), and it was a pity that he wasn’t put into space more often by his inside backs. Two relatively simple tries, but he did it well. Also got stuck in at the breakdowns!
Lukhanyo Am (7.5):
Took his try well, as he had two or three defenders in front of him. Was a constant threat on attack, and made a number of telling tackles as well.
André Esterhuizen (6):
Made a classy offload in the tackle early on that reached Am and eventually released Mapimpi on the right, but didn’t quite live up to the impressive display he produced against Wales. Solid on defence, but would’ve wanted to do more on attack.
Aphiwe Dyantyi (8):
Such a lethal finisher, and always hungry for work. Chased kicks well, particularly in getting to Le Roux’s chip to score. Almost always beats the first man, and is strong in defence too. A worthy Man of the Match.
Handré Pollard (5):
A game to forget for the talented flyhalf. Pollard missed five out of seven goal-kicks, and while some of them were from the touchline, and didn’t dominate the tactical battle either. Also didn’t create much on attack, although solid in the tackle.
Faf de Klerk (7):
Well-taken try from a ruck. Had a much better day with the boot, and set up Dyantyi’s first try with a lovely chip to the left, while floating a long pass out for Mapimpi’s try on the right. Tried hard to get the Bok intensity going on attack, although some passes went astray. Did his usual fair share of tackling too.
Warren Whiteley (4):
Looked surprisingly off the pace, as he did lead the Lions to the Super Rugby final. Those silky touches out wide didn’t materialise, while he wasn’t a source of lineout possession either.
Siya Kolisi (7):
Was the best Bok loose forward – carried strongly around the fringes, and contested at the breakdowns too. Some big hits at close quarters, and was a bit more vocal with the referee too.
Francois Louw (5):
Was almost as quiet as Whiteley. Didn’t see much of him with ball-in-hand, and as the openside flank, he wasn’t really a factor at the breakdown either. Made some good tackles.
Pieter-Steph du Toit (6):
Was beaten a few times in the lineout (although hooker Malcolm Marx must also share the blame), but was a big presence on attack by busting it up the middle. Put in some big hits too. Needs to stay at lock and not move back to flank if he’s going to be the lineout general.
Eben Etzebeth (7):
Having not played since December last year, Etzebeth did remarkably well to play the full 80 minutes. Won and lost a few lineouts, but it was his bursts around the fringes that gave the Boks go-forward. Now needs to add a passing game to challenge Brodie Retallick as the best lock in the world.
Frans Malherbe (6):
Was solid in the scrum, and put himself about around the field. One particularly classy pass to put Pollard into space. Still trying to produce those memorable performances from a few years ago, where he was especially busy on cover defence.
Malcolm Marx (6):
Lions fans may want to blame the Stormers locks (Etzebeth and Du Toit) for the lineout problems, but the buck stops with the hooker. Some of Marx’s throw-ins were a bit too short, and that cannot be afforded when the Boks are on attack against the All Blacks and Wallabies.
Tendai Mtawarira (6):
Made some surges around the fringes, and was strong in the scrums. But needs to lift his general work-rate if he is going to keep Steven Kitshoff on the bench.
Best substitute – Steven Kitshoff (8)
Brought that grunt that wasn’t quite there in the first half. Was a force with ball-in-hand as he punched holes in the Los Pumas defence, and a powerful presence in defence as well. Pushing hard for that No 1 jersey.
It is all over. The Springboks have started their @CastleLagerSA rugby Championship campaign with a 34-21 win over @unionargentina. Well done to both teams. #Springboks #LoveRugby #Springbokgameday #LosPumas #CastleLagerRugbyChampionship @MTNza @FNBSA @asics pic.twitter.com/k9zLx4d4sN