Mixed fortunes as Boks defeat Ireland

JESSE Kriel of South Africa is challenged by James Lowe of Ireland during the first Test at Loftus Versfeld yesterday. BackpagePix

JESSE Kriel of South Africa is challenged by James Lowe of Ireland during the first Test at Loftus Versfeld yesterday. BackpagePix

Published Jul 7, 2024


THE Springboks nudged over the line in an epic struggle against arch enemies Ireland but it was a struggle and some players fared better than others. Mike Greenaway rates the SA players out of 10.

15 Willie le Roux: His tactical game was superb and the fullback either kept the Boks safe or put pressure back onto Ireland. He was significantly influential for the Boks. (7)

14 Cheslin Kolbe: He had a brilliant clearing kick to break an Ireland siege on the tryline. His try to seal the game was sensational. Once again he chased a lost cause to score. (8)

13 Jesse Kriel: He was in the thick of the action and although a busy evening was marred by his dropping a straightforward pass, he had a sound game. (8)

12 Damian de Allende: He had an epic battle with his opposite number Bundee Aki. His work off the ball was excellent and he again showed how valuable he is to his team. (7)

11 Kurt-Lee Arendse: His attacking game was as magnificent as ever. His finish for his try was superb and he was fearless in dealing with the Irish. (8)

10 Handre Pollard: Nailed his first three kicks with precision but then fluffed three kicks to prove he is mortal. Unfortunately, this was vital in such a close game. His defence was also suspect. (5)

9 Faf de Klerk: He was much better than his rusty performance against Wales two weeks ago. He was close to his terrier-like best. (6)

8 Kwagga Smith: Fumbled a kick-off and then was penalised, but he was his usual industrious self and ultimately delivered an invaluable performance. (7)

7 Pieter-Steph du Toit: He showed great hands in the build-up to Arendse’s try and was effective in a link between backs and forwards. He was excellent from start to finish. (8)

6 Siya Kolisi: He had some huge carries to confound his critics, including bowling over Robbie Henshaw. He was used effectively in the wider channels on attack. An excellent shift from the captain. (8)

5 Franco Mostert: His big engine roared as usual. He takes his ball in the line-outs and makes few mistakes. The ideal team man. (6)

4 Eben Etzebeth: He was powerful in the collisions and in defending the tryline in the close-quarter battles. He was a strong presence throughout. (7)

3 Frans Malherbe: Some good carries from the tighthead but he did not get on top of Andrew Porter in the set scrums. (6)

2 Bongi Mbonambi: Gave away the penalty in the loose that gave the Irish an opportunity for three points, but made up for that with industrious work all over the park. (7)

1 Ox Nche: He gave away the penalty in the loose to give Ireland their first points, but had some good drives in the loose and defended well. (6)

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