Springbok ratings: Ox Nche brought great energy, stood strong in the scrums
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CAPE TOWN - The Springboks went down 22-17 to the British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night. IOL Sport’s Ashgfak Mohamed rates the Boks.
Willie le Roux: 6
The Bok fullback had some good moments, especially when he came into the line and tried to put through some clever grubbers, while he was brave in the air. But we didn’t see the usual Le Roux creativity on attack.
Cheslin Kolbe: 5
The right wing magician hardly got the ball going forward as the Boks opted for box-kicks and trucking it up the middle – even Kolbe was brought in as a crash-ball runner at one point. The inside backs need to create space for the Toulouse star to do his thing. Kolbe was also under pressure when fielding the Lions’ accurate up-and-unders.
Lukhanyo Am: 7
The Sharks captain was commanding in the first half, smashing the Lions runners backwards and producing some smart touches on attack. Ran hard with ball-in-hand too.
Damian de Allende: 6
The Bok No 12 was solid on defence, putting in his tackles and working hard to disrupt the Lions’ breakdown. But again, he didn’t have much room to move with ball-in-hand, and the South African attack weren’t able to out-fox their opponents.
Makazole Mapimpi: 6
Another victim of the Boks not playing with much width with ball-in-hand. Did superbly well in the second half to chip inside for Pieter-Steph du Toit in the second half, which led to Faf de Klerk’s try.
Handre Pollard: 7
The Bok No 10 was his usual dependable self in the first half, slotting four penalties and running hard at the Lions defence with ball-in-hand. But whether it was him or the Bok tactics, the South Africans didn’t test the Lions defence out wide enough, and Pollard also missed a conversion and a penalty…
Faf de Klerk: 4
While he tried to get into the Lions’ faces as usual, his box-kick execution left a lot to be desired. He didn’t get enough height on those kicks to test the Lions wings, and lacked distance when he booted the ball into touch as well. Also didn’t really threaten the Lions’ fringe defence.
Kwagga Smith: 6
The former Gauteng Lions star played his heart out and covered a lot of ground in defence, while he was a busy ball-carrier in the first half too. But he didn’t have the same presence in fielding the Lions’ tactical kicks like Duane Vermeulen does.
26th June: Alun Wyn Jones dislocates shoulder 🤕— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 24, 2021
24th July: Alun Wyn Jones leads Lions to victory in First Test 😲
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the greatness of this man?#LionsRugby #CastleLionsSeries #BoksvLions pic.twitter.com/Efg7SoqOXW
Pieter-Steph du Toit: 6
The 2019 World Player of the Year got through a lot of hard yards on defence in the first half, harrying the Lions ball-carriers and imposing himself physically upfront. But we didn’t see those devastating runs in the second and third channels from Du Toit, and the Boks were unable to get in behind the Lions defence as a result.
Siya Kolisi: 6
The Bok captain performed better than expected, considering his recent layoff due to Covid-19. He carried the ball strongly and broke away from a Bok maul, where he was stopped just short of the tryline. But Kolisi understandably ran out of steam a bit in the second half.
Franco Mostert: 5
While Mostert likes to get his hands dirty, he perhaps just lacks the size to really intimidate his opponents in the manner Lood de Jager does.
Eben Etzebeth: 6
Worked hard to break up a few Lions lineout mauls, and led the Bok physical onslaught in the first half. But the visitors’ replacements added renewed energy in the second half, and Etzebeth was unable to stem the tide.
Trevor Nyakane: 7
Was impressive in the scrums in the first half, and was busy around the pitch too. Contested the breakdowns well, and carried the ball strongly too.
Bongi Mbonambi: 6
Made some big hits early on, and put the Bok forward pack on the front foot. Was solid in the lineouts and scrums, and busy in the tight-loose.
Ox Nche: 8
Was the best Bok on show. Brought great energy with ball-in-hand and got the Boks over the advantage line. Stood strong in the scrums, and put in a number of dominant tackles. Was taken off too early.
Overall, the Bok reserve forwards didn’t match the intensity of the starters.