Silly Season Tour

Post Mortem Time – 2017 International Season

Round Four

The 2017 International season is over. It ended in Cardiff as the Springboks yet again surrendered supremacy to a team they should have beaten easily.

Strangely, I am not really disappointed.

But I am really really saddened.

Let me explain my sadness. I am not saddened by the loss to Wales. Rugby is a sport. You win some, you lose some. As Muhammad Ali said after Ken Norton broke his jaw back in March 1973 and went on to beat Ali in the first of their three fights: “Even the best has to figure to get beat sometime!”

Wise words from the greatest boxer the world will ever see. But it is not Ali’s wisdom that we can learn from. We can learn from his response to that defeat. In that first fight he had struggled against Norton’s fighting style on the day. Norton came in low and punched up at Ali, rather than following his more usual strategy for straight-on toe-to-toe stuff. He used a system of crossing his hands and forearms as defence against Ali’s punching power. And it worked. He outthought and out manoeuvred Ali, and Ali respected that.

What Ali did was to go back to the gym and, together with the formidable boxing brain of his long-time coach, Angelo Dundee, work out how to beat Norton. He focussed on improving his own game plan, ironing out the weaknesses and looking for the weaknesses and opportunities to score punches on Norton.

He also realised that he was badly out of shape for a contender for the world title and secluded himself in his training camp, in his own words: “sought to whip this once Adonis-like physique back into shape.”

When the rematch came around on the 10th September 1973 Ali was in the shape of his life. But so was Ken Norton! He had also gone off and studied Ali’s style and worked on his own fitness. He was ready for Ali.

That was when Ali’s remarkable ability to psych his opponents kicked into gear. He danced his way through the fight, up on his toes and bouncing, skipping and stepping as only he could, for the entire 12 rounds of the fight. Just to ram home his point, he declined to sit on the stool between rounds. He stood! (Making it difficult for the much shorter Dundee to wipe his face, offer water and advice.) Ali was showing Norton how fit he was, how ready he was, and how tough he was.

He won the fight on a split decision, 2 to 1. It was close, but Ali had learned from his defeat just six months before.

Ali and Norton were destined to meet in the ring just once more. On 28 September 1976. Once again, both men were well prepared, fit and strong. Norton sought to fight his usual straight up toe-to-toe style and Ali danced around and picked his punches. Ali had learned, Norton had not. Ali won a unanimous decision.

So, what on earth has the story of Ali’s fights got to do with Springbok rugby? Why am I saddened by the loss to Wales?

It is all about the learning.

Let me go back to April last year. Allister Coetzee had just been announced as the new Springbok coach. I wrote an article about the issue that many of you read and commented on.

I suggested that there were many questions surrounding his appointment.

Why on earth did SARU delay the announcement until the end of April? Heyneke Meyer was gone back in December the previous year! It had been an open secret since November of 2015 that Coetzee was the man to take over from Meyer. Why the delay?

Who chose Coetzee’s management and coaching team? Were they imposed on him, or did he have some choice or input?

How did Mzwandile Stick get chosen as backline coach when he had zero experience and no credentials for the job? He was not even a 15’s rugby specialist! Was there some political involvement in the appointment of Stick?

I commented that Coetzee was being set up to fail, and wondered what purpose this would serve the greater good of South African Rugby.

The media reaction to his appointment was weird. Many of the rugby hacks that earn their daily crumb from the game immediately turned on Coetzee, questioning his ability, his record, his man-management processes, and even his loyalty. That is the way of South Africa’s rugby media, and many of the less thoughtful fans.

That esteemed rugby website, Rugby365, immediately ran a poll asking their readers whether he was the right man for the job. 53% voted “No!”

Allister Coetzee was forced to defend himself against the hostility of the media and the fan base, before he had even had a chance to organise a training camp for prospective Springbok players!

I went on to say, and I quote:

“Let me give my view on the choice of Allister Coetzee as Bok coach. Four years ago he was mooted as an alternative to Heyneke Meyer, but Meyer was seen as some kind of deity descending from heaven to save South African rugby and was the choice of almost every media hack, rugby pundit, and commentator active in this country. How wrong they were!

Coetzee’s candidacy was pooh-poohed on the basis that he had never won a Super Rugby title and that his coaching record was not a “winning record” – once again, how wrong they were!

Coetzee briefly coached the EP Kings when they were known, for some obscure reason, as the Mighty Elephants; he assisted at the Sharks; he then assisted Jake White with the Springboks when they won the 2007 World Cup; he coached Western Province to two Currie Cup titles and the Stormers to the top the South African Super Rugby log twice, making to a Super Rugby final and finishing as runner’s up once. He left the Stormers after six years in charge to go and coach Kobe Steel in Japan.

Perhaps his biggest failing as a coach was a focus on rock solid defence first, and scoring tries second, but of all the South African candidates available for the job of South African coach, he has far and away the best record!”

Note those words: “of all the South African candidates available for the job of South African coach, he has far and away the best record!”

You see, nobody else wanted the job. The Springbok coaching job is the poison chalice of world rugby. Take the job, and you paint a target the size of Table Mountain on your back, and everybody starts taking pot-shots at you. Big names had sidestepped the job and refused all manner of offers. Nick Mallett and Brendan Venter were just two who stepped away from SARU, resigning as selectors as well. Rassie Erasmus vanished to Munster. The local cupboard was bare!

Even international coaches sidestepped and ducked out of sight. A couple of New Zealanders approached by SARU ducked and dived. That cupboard was bare too, except for the shelf occupied by one Jake White, and nobody wanted him back.

Let me quote one more bit from that article written back in April:

“Lest we forget that Coetzee had been recommended for the role by the SA Rugby High Performance Committee, which includes another media favorite for the job of Bok coach, a certain Rassie Erasmus. Their recommendation was accepted by the Executive Council and the General Council.”

(So, Rassie recommended Allister…….. And now we are told Rassie is recommending a certain Mr Davids….)

Based on my thoughts about Coetzee’s appointment, I went on to say that:

“He is a very good coach, who establishes a excellent rapport with his players while avoiding controversy, sidestepping rugby politics and provincial factions. He has shown a penchant for staying below the radar and avoiding pronouncements and swagger at media briefings, unlike some of his predecessors in the Bok hot seat. He is an astute judge of players and the game, and thoroughly deserves an opportunity at the top level of the game.”

I also made the somewhat dire prediction: “The poor fellow is on a hiding to nothing!”

After the loss to Ireland in June 2016, I again reiterated that the man had been thrown into the deep-end with some pretty heavy weights attached to his ankles. He was struggling to stay afloat amidst the incompetence of some of his assistants, the raw inexperience of many of his players, the loss of so many senior players to foreign currency offers, and the massive pressure put on him by the media and the fan base.

I again suggested that he be given the time and space to build his team.

As the 2016 season bumbled on and on, we began to see Coetzee abandoning the open running style that he had promised for the new Springboks. By the time the end of the year Silly Season tour came around we were watching a clueless, rudderless Springbok outfit playing old fashioned “Jakeball” rugby. Crashball up the middle through pod after pod for forwards, long kicks up-field, followed by defensive lines designed to stop the opponents getting out of their half, while waiting for a penalty to kick at the posts. Rugby with zero enterprise and even less risks.

(This was the game that Allister Coetzee had learned under Jake White’s tutelage back in 2006/7 and it had won a World Cup, so it might just win a Test for Allister. He was desperate for a win, any win, any style!)

Sadly, it did not. The world had learned how to counter Jakeball.

After the loss to Italy I pointed out that the Bok game plan revolved around pop-passing the ball to a pod of forwards, a crashball charge until brought to ground, and then another pop-pass to a pod. The stats in that game showed is that fully 66% of the balls passed by the scrumhalf on the day (Rudy Paige) had gone to a forward!

The two flyhalves on the day, Lambie and Jantjies, received the ball just 26 times in the whole game.

This style of rugby worked back in 2007. But the world had learned how to defend it and break it up! You do not need to put your best defenders out wide, the ball is not going out wide. Put them in the midfield, stop the constant pods of forwards, wait for the handling error, and counter attack immediately.

Let’s jump forward to Saturday in Cardiff. On the attack, Handre Pollard got the ball just 17 times. He personally carried it 6 times, making 66 meters in the process. He passed it 10 times, and kicked it just once, for the try in the corner.

On defence he received it 12 times, kicking it 9 times and passing it twice, He was caught with the ball once.

He also made two handling errors.

Elton Jantjies came on for the last, desperate, 9 minutes. He received the ball 12 times, knocked it on twice, ran with it four times, and passed it just 6 times. He also received it on defence once, and kicked it.

Now we go to the scrumhalves.

Ross Cronje passed the ball 70 times while he was on the field. 69 passes were accurate and taken by the intended recipient. But if he only passed it to Pollard 17 times, we can deduce that 52 passes went to someone else! Mostly forwards!

Oh, and he carried the ball himself 6 times!

75% of his passes went to pods of forwards….. That is even worse than against Italy last year!

Louis Schreuder’s arrival on the field coincided with the arrival of Jantjies, they had 9 minutes together as the half-back pairing. Schreuder passed the ball 22 times, twelve of those passes to Jantjies! A much better ratio, but driven by the fact that in those last minutes South Africa were throwing the ball around in a final desperate attempt to win a game. Schreuder only carried the ball once on his own.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

Much as in the game against Italy a year ago, South Africa, unbelievably, reverted to the forward rush game plan. The fall-back option of a coach who has run out of ideas, again.

And this is the reason for my sadness!

The South African coach, and his team of assistants, appear to have learned absolutely nothing during their time in charge of the team.

During the June International break, I watched the All Blacks play the Lions, and I commented in an article about how clever the All Blacks were about using the forward pod in the midfield as an optional tactic. But it was only an option, the majority of their ball went to the flyhalf!

Even when using the forward pod option, the All Blacks had more options! When the forward pod received the ball, they would run at the opposition with one or two supporters outside, but close to, the carrier, almost shoulder to shoulder. And there was always someone coming up on the inside of the carrier, although he would be running a bit wider, off the ball by a meter or two.

The ball carrier could do one of four things. He could take the ball into contact himself, which he did about once every five carries. Mostly he would take it up to contact, but shift (offload) it outside to either of the two close supporters in the split second before contact was made, the new carrier would be the one to actually make contact. This caused the defenders to be in two minds, who to tackle?? Whoever they tackled, it would be at an angle instead of straight on, as they would have to delay the tackle until they knew who was going to be carrying it.

And just to add to the defender confusion, about once in every 5 carries the ball would go back inside to the slightly wider running supporter. This added to the defence confusion by turning the tacklers, even taking them out of the equation.

The final option was also used, particularly if Brodie Retallick was carrying the ball, he would spin back and pass to the flyhalf or scrumhalf who was running across behind him.

This is thinking forward play, and it provides all manner of options. The Lions did try to counter these rushes with a very quick rush defence, getting to the ball to prevent the offloads or passes, they too were thinking on their feet!

Now go back and look at the way South African forwards carried the ball against Ireland, France, Italy, and finally Wales.

Almost invariably, it was from a standing start which, in itself, is infuriating! You have zero momentum when you get the ball standing still.

But then the Springbok pods would adopt an instantly recognisable formation. The ball carrier ahead, about a meter in front of two support runners. The ball carrier was not going to pass. He was going for contact! The support runners were not looking for a pass! They were there for the moment when the ball carrier went to ground, so that they could clean out tacklers and seal off the ball on the ground. And then the scrumhalf, or someone else would recycle the ball and start the process all over again. Jakeball, Oh Jakeball………

It is mindless, it is old fashioned, it is boring, it is predictable, and it is easy to defend!

If you are going to give two thirds of your attacking ball to forwards, you had better have a well oiled plan, some strategy, for using the ball, and you had better have a Plan B, and a Plan C… The rest of the rugby world is not stupid, they can see what you are doing and they can learn to beat you!

Allister Coetzee and his coaching squad have learned absolutely nothing about how to play the forward/midfield game in the last twelve months!

These are not the only things Allister and his coaches have not learned.

I have to question their selection processes. Have they not learned where the weaknesses are in the team and sought to fix these problems? Have they not learned to use players in their specialist positions? Why were re-treaded locks played on the flank? Why were re-treaded flanks played at 8th man?

Last year we had flyhalves at fullback, scrumhalves on the wing, locks at flank, outside centres at inside centre…… This year has been just as wayward.

This did no justice to the players who were forced to play out of position, but it did even less justice to a host of players who were specialists in the position in question, and who were in form too!

Where was Nizaam Carr when Allister Coetzee chose to play a flanker, Uzair Cassiem at 8th Man? Or when he deployed another specialist flanker, François Louw as 8th Man? Carr was the form *8 in South Africa in 2017! Where were either of the Du Preez brothers when he was looking for an 8th Man? Why did it take so long to call up Duane Vermeulen?

Why did we have to wait until the very end of the Rugby Championships before Wilco Louw was called up as a specialist tighthead? He had been walking all over the loose-heads opposing him, yet Coetzee persisted with that walking penalty known as Ruan Dreyer…

Why the persistence with the woefully out of form Damien de Allende? Or the inadequacy of Raymond Rhule on the wing? Or Courtnall Skosan on the other wing?

Why was François Hougaard playing on the wing? Or even in the squad when his frailties as a scrumhalf had been brutally exposed? Why was Ruan Pienaar ignored for the Silly Season tour? Why was Faf de Klerk dropped out of the squad?

Why the persistence with a flyhalf who had been shown to lack the BMT needed for Test Match rugby?

Where were the senior players who could and would bring stability and experience to a decidedly underperforming back division? Where were the likes of Frans Steyn, Willie le Roux, Juan de Jongh, JP Pietersen even? Why on earth was Jan Serfontein given permission to miss a Springbok tour?

I have to question Coetzee’s sanity in selecting a young, attacking fullback for his debut Test….. on the wing.

I have to ask whether they have not learned that the incumbent fullback is a liability with the ball in hand, a liability under the high ball, and a liability when he has to kick the ball anywhere on the field.

Way back after the second round of the Rugby Championships Test against Argentina I had this to say about Andries Coetzee:

“Could have done better. Solid at the back, his boot seemed to lack a meter or two. A threat with the ball in hand, he still tends to try and go a meter or two too far before passing, and consequently dies with the ball. That yellow card was simply silly. 5/10”

After the third RC Test, South Africa’s first against Australia, I said:

“Hot and cold, again. Nothing spectacular on the attack or counter-attack, but steady enough. Some inaccuracy with the boot. Missed a simple touch finder, kicked one straight into touch from outside the 22, and had a very scary moment when a clearance kick on his line was charged down. Made one good break, but then lost the ball in contact. Still holding the ball a second too long rather than passing. 4/10”

After the fourth RC Test, the disaster in Albany, I said:

“His frailties were exposed. His kicking out of hand was poor, again. His defensive decision making is questionable too, putting unnecessary pressure on his supporting players. Allowed the ball to be ripped from his hands too easily. Still runs into trouble with the ball in hand rather than passing. Yes, he steps and runs well, but pointlessly. 3/10”

The litany continued:

Against Australia: “Still tended to try and do too much on his own. Suffers from the general team malaise of not passing in time.

New Zealand: “One poor high kick, and one missed touch-finder that resulted in 10 minutes of extra rugby before halftime eventually arrived. Nothing much to report on.”

Ireland: “Clueless on attack, no linking with others, turning away from support, counterattacked pointlessly and then died with the ball more often than anyone else. Fair game under the high ball, but has no idea of how to jump for the ball. Kicking still woeful. Poor decision making too, especially in his own 22. Not an international fullback. 3/10”

France: “The man does not pass the ball, he simply takes it, tucks it under an arm and charges, swerving, stepping even, but invariably dying with the ball. His kick receipts are dicey at best, some of his defending was poor, and his kicking remains woeful. One hack downfield had me grabbing my head, much to the amusement of those watching the game with me. I will give him a generous 2/10.”

Italy: “Once again, he preferred to retain the ball rather than pass it. Once again, his tactical kicking was somewhere between atrocious and very poor. Once again, he struggled under the high ball, and even failed to take the first high ball kicked onto him. 4/10”

And then, in justifying why Warrick Gelant was being thrown under a bus out on the right wing, Allister Coetzee said that Andries Coetzee was an “underrated player” – I suggested underwhelming might be a better word.

Once again, it seems that Allister Coetzee and his fellow coaches have not learned anything by watching their selected fullback playing rugby….

As for the woes of the back three under the high ball??

This is an issue that everyone in world rugby knows about! Much like the fast-bowlers’ grapevine in cricket, if one bowler sniffs out a particular batsman’s weakness facing the short ball, they will ALL know about it, and then have a go with some chin music at every opportunity they get to bowl at that man!

Ireland knew about the Bok weakness in the wide channels and under the high ball, and exploited it mercilessly. France knew, and they tried, and almost succeeded a couple of times. Italy were not great, but they tried too. Wales knew, and they exploited it to score two very quick tries on the weekend.

Surely, surely, surely Allister Coetzee and his fellow specialist coaches must know too. Or have they not learned?

I cannot believe that they have not noticed the problem. Why are they not doing anything about it?

It is not a difficult thing to sort out! These are professional rugby players, they are supposed to have the basic skills. Two or three hours on the practice field, some solid guidelines, and lots of practice and it will be sorted. The practice will be valuable for the persistently wayward tactical kickers too….. This is kindergarten stuff! Nominate! Eyes on the ball! Get under it, time your jump! Jump! Not a little ballet skip, jump! Arms like so… catch the damn thing!

Yes, I know it is not the Springbok coach’s job to teach players the basics, but when you are on tour and it is all going wrong, fix it!

If your defensive alignment is not working, fix it! Why is Brendan Venter being paid a huge salary? He is the Defence Coach! Come on mate, do your job! We can all see the misalignment of the wings and the fullback, we can all see the drift defence is not working, we can all see that the outer fringe players are drifting off their channels. It is simple stuff, and if we can see it, then the opposition can see it too, and they will exploit it!

Even the basics of pillar and post defence around the rucks seems to be a mystery to the Springbok backs.. They are simply lining up incorrectly. This is stuff that even a club coach can fix!

If the world can see that players are off form or are ineffective in a game, then surely you can see it in the coaches’ box? It is time for a bit of learning, and then innovative thinking. Fix it, but make rational changes! Do not keep the miscreants on the field and take off the guys who are actually doing something! Why did you pull off Pollard? Why did you take off Cronje with just 9 minutes left on the clock? Why did you wait so long for that change? Why did you NOT pull off Coetzee and give Gelant a chance in his specialist position. Lucky Am could have filled in on the wing, or even at 13 so Kriel could go onto the wing, he is more suited to wing play anyway!

Why was Siya Kolisi not made captain?? I am not knocking Eben Etzebeth, I am not brave enough to do that, but he was only kinda okayish as stand-in captain, he has no experience of righting a badly listing ship. He is a good fair-weather captain, but you need someone who takes charge in stormy weather too. Kolisi is an experienced Stormers captain, and a sure selection in every Test. He should have been captain.

Once again, have you not learned anything from the 2017 season?

During parts of 2017 it seemed as if the team was learning from past mistakes. A work-in-progress that was improving, baby step by baby step. The players seem to be learning….

And the coaches? Well, when we start to look at some of the selections, and some of the players left out. When we look at the weird defence strategies, and the game plan that seemed to shift backwards with each Test….

And then we see the retrogression during the Silly Season Tour, and we realise… No, the coach and his helpers have not learned a thing!

Either they are so blindly fixed in their ways that they cannot see the problems, or they are simply not good enough rugby strategists and tacticians to be able to recognise problems. Either way, they simply have not learned the lessons evident out on the field of play. Perhaps they do not want to learn?

The denials that follow every game are stark evidence of an unwillingness to learn.

There also has to be some accountability for the lack of performance by a team that has the talent, but not the strategies, the game plan, nor the maturity to win games.

So, much against my own plea for some continuity in coaching structures and strategies in South African rugby, I join the raucous calls for Allister Coetzee to go.

I will not do a ball-by-ball review of this game. You all watched it, and I have had my say about weird selections, weird game plans, and poor substitutions. Suffice to say, it was a poor display by a team that is capable of so much better, but seem to be hamstrung by a coaching regime that is unwilling to learn and make progress.

A dominant pack of forwards needs something better than the somewhat clueless rugby offered by the back division.

I will, however, still give you my assessment of the individual players:

Individual Player Ratings

South Africa:

15 Andries Coetzee:

You may have gathered that I am not a fan of this young man’s fullback play. For me, he has inherited Pierre Spies’ title as the Anna Kournikova of rugby, all looks and no game. His biggest failing is in attempting to beat the opposition all on his own. He simply does not pass the ball, ever. His positional play was very poor, especially on defence. Frailty under the high ball was again exposed when he called for a ball, and missed it! His kicking was atrocious, and he had a simple clearance kick charged down, yet again. This one gave Parkes’ his second try, Wales their third try, and the game belonged to Wales. 2/10

14 Dillyn Leyds:

He may be a little light for the modern game, but cannot be faulted for guts and willingness to work on and off the ball. Did well on defence. Great kick-chasing, often on his own. Started the counterattack from his own 22, making meters before passing to Jesse Kriel who made some meters too, then kicked in field for Gelant to score his maiden Test try. 6/10

13 Jesse Kriel:

Oy Vey…. Poor defence that gave Parkes his first try, some headless chicken running with the ball in hand, seemed to have no idea what to do with the ball… When he did pass, it was a poor pass to Gelant. A better pass might have seen a scoring opportunity. Pretty much the same as last week, and the week before, and the week before…………… 3/10

12 Francois Venter:

Solid defence, but reverted to type with a low head and body angle into contact when carrying the ball. No chance of passing the ball when you are almost down on the ground. Did make some crucial tackles. Chipped in at the breakdown. Very average. 5/10

11 Warrick Gelant:

Had no idea of the positional play required on the wing. Not his fault though! Did well with the ball in hand, made a couple of solid tackles when he was in the right place at the right time. A good interception. Set up Kriel’s try. He deserves a chance in his specialist position. 6/10

10 Handre Pollard:

The general malaise of high-ball jitters has spread like some malicious viral infection, reaching the usually dependable flyhalf too! Missed a touch-finder penalty kick, smething that should never happen. Improved as the game settled down, and scored a good try after half-time to bring his team back into the match. Poor service from Cronje ensured that he got the ball standing still a couple of times. 5/10

9 Ross Cronje:

We know that he is clueless under the high ball, and so it was, again. Was very slow around the field and off the base of the ruck and scrum. Box kicking was not good. One very good tackle. Probably his worst game in the Springbok jersey. 3/10

8 Daniel du Preez:

Did the basics of set-piece 8th Man play well. Defended well, carried the ball well. Not the greatest presence over the ball on the ground, but worked hard all day. A fairly good day at the office. 6/10

7 Pieter-Steph du Toit:

A class act, even when playing out of position! Solid tackles. Powerful carries, great support play, and covered a lot of territory. Pinged for not rolling away late in the game, and that penalty gave Wales the match! And that intercepted pass??? Small but critical moments in what was mostly a very good day at the office. 7/10

6 Siya Kolisi:

Solid tackles, good carries, great support lines. Good cleaning out at the ruck, but still not really a fetcher. Overall, a good day. 6/10

5 Lodewyk de Jager:

Worked hard in a dominant display by the entire pack. Carried well, if only for short distances. Did his job in the lineouts, made some good tackles. 6/10

4 Eben Etzebeth:

The sheer physicality that this man brings to the game would surely result in injury at some stage, and it did, just before half-time. Made some very good, dominant tackles and robust carries, brought some heavy artillery to clean-outs too. Was missed in the second half, if only for the sheer muscle of his game. 6/10

3 Wilco Louw:

Completely dominated the Welsh loose-heads. Made some solid tackles, good lineout support and mauling. Good cleaning out at the rucks. A good day. 7/10

2 Malcolm Marx:

His usual driving, linking, tackling, ball-stealing game. Solid in every aspect, except for misreading two lineout calls. Very good over the ball on the ground. Not sure why his “try” was disallowed. 7/10

1 Steven Kitshoff:

This fellow brings so much more to the game than just his immense scrummaging. Carried the ball powerfully, tackled equally powerfully, mauled like a man possessed, and generally made the point that he is the best loose-head in the country. Period. 7/10

Replacements:

16 Bongi Mbonambi: (On for Malcolm Marx, 70th min):

Carried the ball powerfully, and brought some pace to the game as tired legs started to show elsewhere on the field. A great sub to have on the bench. 6/10

17 Trevor Nyakane: (On for Wilco Louw, 68th min):

Sometimes he worries me as being too much of a show-pony. This time he actually got stuck in and did his job. A good 12 minutes, but not sure if he brought anything extra. 5/10

18 Ruan Dreyer:

Not sure why he was on the bench. Not used.

19 Teboho Mohoje (On for Eben Etzebeth, 40th min):

Did his job well, good in lineouts, good in open play. Not a great fetcher, and always likely to give away a penalty or two for high tackles. He may yet be cited for one such high tackle on Alun Wyn Jones missed by the ref. 5/10

20 Uzair Cassiem (On for Dan du Preez, 77th min):

Three minutes? Not enough time to be rated.

21 Louis Schreuder (On for Ross Cronje, 70th min):

Brought more pace to the ball, and did try and up the tempo of the game for his 9 minutes on the field. Got a bit lost in the hurly-burly of the final minutes. 5/10

22 Elton Jantjies (On for Handre Pollard, 70th min):

Some day it will dawn on Allister Coetzee that the man with the weird hair brings nothing to the Springbok team. Two knock on errors in the first two minutes on the field, both in great attacking situations, probably influenced the result! 2/10.

23 Lukhanyo Am (On for Jesse Kriel, 77th min):

Too little, too late. Three minutes?? Not enough time to be rated.

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny:

Dependable under the high ball. Good defence. Good tactical kicking and kicking for touch, very good kicking for goal. 6/10

14 Hallam Amos:

Worked hard on and off the ball. Chased tactical kicking superbly. Tackled well. 6/10

13 Scott Williams:

His support running was something to watch, especially compared to the lines run by some of the Springboks. Tackled well, carried well. A nuisance at the breakdown too! 7/10

12 Hadleigh Parkes:

Having finally found a home in Wales, he made the best of his opportunity for his adoptive country. Two good tries. Ran very good support lines, and went looking for work all day. 7/10

11 Steffan Evans:

Was a bit invisible on the field, but made no mistakes. 5/10

10 Dan Biggar:

Exploited the Springbok weaknesses out wide and under the high ball superbly. Thereafter controlled the game well. 8/10

9 Alex Davies:

Quick passing off the base, even under pressure as his pack retreated. Good tactical kicking. Very good game management. Put pressure on Cronje all day. 7/10

8 Taulupe Faletau:

Solid defence, solid carries, good linking interplay with the backs. Some good meters with the ball in hand. 6/10

7 Josh Navidi:

Runs a lot, but sometimes a bit pointlessly. Reminds me of Michael Hooper. A nuisance, but not always an effective nuisance. Slipped a couple of tackles. 5/10

6 Aaron Shingler:

A quiet day at the office, mostly working to stop the Springbok forward pod rushes. Not much chance to do anything else, but did his job effectively. 5/10

5 Alun Wyn Jones:

Got a bit distracted by off-the-ball stuff. Spent a good ten minutes complaining about Mohoje’s high tackle, which affected his concentration somewhat. Tackled well, carried well.. 5/10

4 Cory Hill:

Seemed a bit invisible as he spent most of the day stopping Springbok forward rushes and mauls. Did his job well enough. 5/10

3 Scott Andrews:

Struggled in the scrums, but the rest of his game was fair enough. 4/10

2 Kristian Dacey:

Lineout work was good, but invisible elsewhere as he was completely dominated by Marx. Struggled to hook the ball. 4/10

1 Rob Evans:

Really struggled in the scrum, but did his work elsewhere on the field. One bad knock-on error on attack. Slipped two tackles. 3/10

Replacements:

16 Elliot Dee (On for Kristian Dacey, 60th min):

Good in lineouts and general play, some very good clean-outs at the ruck. Struggled in the front row of the scrum. 5/10

17 Wyn Jones (On for Rob Evans, 47th min):

Invisible in general play and crunched in the scrums. 3/10

18 Rhodri Jones:

Not used.

19 Seb Davies:

Not used.

20 Dan Lydiate (On for Josh Navidi, 74th min):

Not enough time to be rated

21 Rhys Webb (On for Alex Davies, 55th min):

Brought some extra speed to the ball and around the fringes. Good game management. 6/10

22 Rhys Patchell (On for Dan Biggar, 47th min):

Solid play, with good tactical kicking. Made some useful meters with the ball, and made a couple of good tackles. 5/10

23 Owen Watkins:

Not Used.

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