2018 Rugby Championships

South Africa 23 vs Australia 12

Saturday 29th September 2018

 

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Crowd: 42 000

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Matthew Carley (England)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)

“Two weeks ago the Springboks produced one of the finest defensive performances ever seen in modern rugby as they held on to beat the All Blacks  by 36 to 34 in Wellington, New Zealand. The never-say-die attitude, the sheer mongrel of the Springboks was much lauded by all that follow the game of rugby.”

Those were the words with which I opened by preview for this game, and they serve as opening words for the review of this game too.

This was another game in which the Springboks proved that having all the possession and much of the territorial advantage serves no purpose if you are faced with a rock solid defence and a team that will not give an inch. Much like the All Blacks two weeks ago, the Wallabies seemed to run out of ideas as they battered themselves silly against a green wall of Springbok defenders.

Many will rightly say that producing yet another superlative defensive performance is only half of what Test Match rugby is all about. They will recall Heyneke Meyer’s tactics in the final rounds and knock-out phases of the 2015 Rugby World Cup when the Springboks defended for all their worth, winning against Wales by 23 to 19 in the quarterfinals before going down to New Zealand 20 – 18 in the semifinals. The closeness of the scores suggest close games, but the real issue was that the Springboks played a conservative forward oriented game with pods of forwards smashing the ball into the tackle time after time, with no real plan or tactic for actually creating scoring opportunities.

Defending is all good and well, but you still need to score points to win a game of rugby!

I would suggest that those that are worried about a Springbok team that just defends and defends would be 100% correct.

I too would be worried about the future, if that is all that Rassie Erasmus’ Class of 2018 was doing.

The truth, however is that this young, eager, yet vastly inexperienced team of Springboks are doing very much more than just defending their way through game after game.

Consider the number of scoring opportunities they are creating, and you begin to form a different picture of what happened out on the field of play.

By my own count, the Springboks created clear scoring opportunities that they failed to convert into points on the scoreboard on no less than 8 occasions.

“I think tonight we created more chances than we did against New Zealand and if we had converted some of those the game would have gone very differently,” said Rassie Erasmus after the match.

“If we’d taken them we could have given them a hiding. In the past couple of months when we made changes, we lost matches so to make eight changes and beat Australia is something to celebrate and before we start to look at where we need to improve, we should probably enjoy the victory.”

Consider the number of times Willie le Roux created opportunities. There was that long pass in the 11th minute that would very likely have sent Dyantyi to the line for his second try, but just did not find the mark. There was a superb long pass to Pollard in the 15th minute deep inside the Springbok 22m area that triggered a brilliant counter attacking move, and a bit of luck and better finishing could have seen a try. If Le Roux himself had held onto that Kolbe tap-back at the end of the first half yet another try was on the books.

There was the intercept that very nearly came off, that resulted in a truly harsh penalty because Wayne Barnes, the assistant referee, felt he was “not in a realistic position to catch the ball”. If Le Roux had taken that ball he was in space with some distance to run, but he also had Dyantyi roaming up outside and similarly unmarked! If that ball had stuck…………

Consider Siya Kolisi’s magnificent break up the right wing. Slightly better communication by support runners to warn him of the chaser bearing down on him, a pass just a nano-second earlier, and it was a score under the posts. It was more than a half-chance, it was a certain try, if only……

There was Cheslin Kolbe’s one on one with Folau that ended with a high tackle by Folau, but again the opportunity had been created and an accurate offload or kick would have created yet another scoring moment.

Jesse Kriel produced a very clever grubber kick through for Dyantyi just after the half-time restart that was just too much. A slightly better weighted kick, and it was another score for Dyantyi.

Dyantyi himself chipped the ball ahead, but the bounce went into touch when a lucky bounce the other way, and a score was on the board.

And these examples of chances that were created but not converted into scoring moments are just the most obvious ones that everyone could see.

If we delve deeper and study the recording of the game carefully, with plenty of slo-mo replays and stop-action, we begin to see plenty more of these little errors, the moments that can, and should be converted into pressure on the opposition.

In essence, this was a far from clinical performance by the Springboks, yet it provides for many positives as this young team heads on into the future and towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup. They might not be favourites to win the RWC, but they will certainly be contenders, if they continue to develop and grow as we have seen them grow in 2018.

Consider simply this: Under Rassie Erasmus the Springboks have beaten England in two out of three Tests. They have beaten the Argentine once, and now they have banked back-to-back wins over their fiercest southern hemisphere rivals, New Zealand and Australia.

That was not something they managed in the two years under Allister Coetzee.

If we analyse this Test against Australia a bit further, a number of interesting observations can, and should, be made.

I, for one, never got the feeling or the impression that the Springboks were under threat of losing this Test. Even when the Aussies had all the ball and were desperately trying to find something, some way of putting points on the board, there was the feeling that this Springbok team was up to the challenge.

In essence, the Springboks were clear-cut enough winners against a side that was throwing everything they had in themselves at the Springboks. Those Wallabies were motivated, they were focussed, they were desperate, and they were simply not good enough.

Yes, it was another Springbok defensive performance of superlative value.

Yes, they made plenty of silly mistakes; their tactical kicking, especially the box kicking and the kicks upfield for territorial gain was often nothing more than a gift of the ball to the Wallabies to launch yet another futile attack on the Springbok line.

Yes, they butchered a number of clear-cut scoring opportunities.

Yet they never seemed to be wilting under the pressure. They never looked desperate, they never looked like losers!

You could sense a growing confidence, a growing conviction, a soaring esprit de corps, and a unity that was completely missing in the 2016 and 2017 years.

You could see, and appreciate a group of players that is slowly, surely, growing into a real team!

And that, dear reader, is what we should be looking for in the 2018 Springbok team. Growth and development that is real and measurable is the stuff we are looking for!

Turning now to the Australians.

We all know that Michael Cheika is going to have a go at the referee whenever his team loses. This is as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise. The Wallabies (or the Waratahs) lose, and the referee is the target of Cheika’s next big whinge. He has already had much to say about Nigel Owens, Jaco Peyper, Romain Poite, Wayne Barnes, Glen Jackson, Mike Fraser, to name just a few. We can now add Jérôme Garcès to that ever-growing list. In the wake of his team’s 23-12 loss to the Springboks in Port Elizabeth, Cheiks bemoaned the referee’s poor management of the lineout and the offside line.  He also moaned about the Springboks’ rush defence, and suggested that the referee missed far too many illegal moments. He did not stop moaning there, he also moaned about his own players’ poor finishing, and then he moaned at Australian reporters who asked if a record of two wins in the last 10 Tests was good enough.

As has become usual for Michael Cheika, he blamed everyone for his team’s loss and the state of Australian rugby.

Everyone but himself.

Yet some questions must be asked of Mr Cheika in the light of the Wallaby performance in Port Elizabeth.

Why, after two Tests in which it was clearly evident that Kurtley Beale is not an international quality flyhalf was the experiment repeated in Port Elizabeth? Without a doubt, Beale is a quality player, one of the stand-out stars in a Wallaby outfit that has far too many journeymen and way too few real stars. He is a playmaker and game manager when he is in his favoured 12 jersey, but this just does not happen in the fly-half position. He does not provide the calm, confident control and direction they need in that position. He struggles under the direct pressure of chasers at the set-pieces, witness his wayward pass for Dyantyi’s first try!

Why is Bernard Foley on the bench rather than starting in the flyhalf position? Foley has his faults, but they are known faults and can be managed, and he does give Beale time on the ball in the midfield.

The problem, of course, is who must make way for Beale to shift back to the inside centre berth. Must Matt Toomua be dumped? He has been the steadiest of the current Wallaby back division and has kept the Wallabies in touch with their opponents through some useful goal-kicking.

Must Reece Hodge be dumped? He was one of the two Wallaby backs that played well against South Africa.

What about Israel Folau? A very valid question must be asked about his selection. Everyone knows of his prowess under the high ball, both as a kick chaser and as a kick receiver. Everyone knows that he is difficult to stop when he is on the run. But what else does he bring to the game? His defence is average at best, his technical nous is below average, his positional play borders on poor, he is selfish with the ball in hand and hardly ever passes the ball, and his decision making kinda sucks. Firstly, why is he in the team on the wing? Secondly, based on 2018 performances, he is certainly not the best fullback in Australia, that title belongs to Dane Haylett-Petty.

And he certainly does not seem to be an international class wing.

So why do you persist with him, Mr Cheika?

More questions must be asked about other Wallaby selections, with the first being about Taniela Tupou’s starting role in the front row. He is an enormously powerful young man, and has a huge future in him, if he is properly nurtured and coached. To date, he has been used as an impact player in the last 20 minutes of Test matches, when his fresh legs and raw power can be brought to bear on opponents who have had 60 minutes of rugby already. Throwing him into the starting role deep-end against the likes of the Beast and then Kitshoff is tantamount to murdering the kid! Yes, he stood up to the physical challenge in the scrums, but he vanished in the open play where he has often been the Wallaby go-to man for midfield ball carrying in the latter stages of a Test. He was simply tackled out of the game. By the time he was pulled from the field after just 50 minutes his shoulders were drooping with fatigue.

Why is Ned Hanigan in the team? He does not play to the ball, he does not play the wide ranging support game. He provides no option in the lineout, and his tackling is mediocre at best. He is not an international quality flanker! Why was there no reserve flanker on the bench?

The Wallaby lineout was a shambles, and that simply has to be a coaching issue. There are enough big men with excellent Super Rugby experience to hold their own in the lineouts, but this seems to have been drilled out of them at the Wallaby level.

A real problem for the Wallabies was their lack of physical grunt in the tight five. Tupou aside, they did not have any real heavy artillery for smashing the ball up the middle when they needed to do it. Adam Coleman was the go-to guy, and he just did not have the presence or power of an Etzebeth or Mostert.

The next issue that Mr Cheika should answer for is the lack of ideas in the back division. With almost every set-piece ball, and with a whole host of broken play balls, it appeared that the Wallabies were running training ground manoeuvres. It was very predictable, and thus very easy for the Springboks to defend.  There seems to be a culture of structured play before innovation, and that is a coaching problem!

Watching the Wallabies play in 2018, one gets the distinct impression that they are a team that is going through the motions, almost as if they are playing by the numbers. There is very little innovation, and very little attempt to read what the opposition are doing.

And this played right into the Springbok hands on Saturday.

The Wallabies were simply unable to read the Springbok defence systems and work out how to counter them.

Against the All Blacks two weeks ago, and again against the Wallabies, the Springboks used the combination of a rush and spread defence. They focussed on getting right up into the space and face of the Wallaby playmakers, while those not directly involved in pressurising the ball carrier spread across the width of the field to cover every meter and man.

It is very interesting to watch how the Springboks do not commit to rucks when they are formed on the field between the two teams’ 22m lines. The Springboks allow the ruck to form, with just one player present to ensure that the ruck is called, while the rest of the players either slide or fold wider.

They also stand a quarter- to a half meter behind the last feet instead of right on the offside line. This is clever in two ways. The first is in “managing the referee” by being clearly onside when he looks at their defensive set-up. When the Springboks do then creep offside, the referee is not inclined to see it! He has already seen that they set their defences well “onside” and is thus concentrating somewhere else!

The second is that by giving themselves the added half-a-meter or so to gain momentum before the tackle, they are making bigger, more powerful hits and achieving dominance in the tackle more frequently than they used to. A count of 19 dominant tackles against the Wallabies bears witness to this tactic. The extra moment also allows more accuracy in the tackle on the ball carrier.

The second aspect of the ruck defence that is evident from the Springbok game plan is that they are happy to stay out of the rucks in those parts of the field where they can manage the defence, but that they will flood the ruck at certain times.

If one watched Malcolm Marx on Saturday, he was clearly staying out of the rucks in the midfield areas, but the moment the ball crossed into the Springbok or Wallaby 22m area, it was full commitment! This has to be a pre-considered tactic. The same was true for all his fellow forwards!

It was also interesting to watch the Springbok defenders setting themselves off the rucks and tackles. It was clearly visible how they watched Will Genia, or whomsoever was tasked with picking the ball at the base of the ruck, and the possible receivers of the ball should it be passed. They were focussed on chasing the ball, rather than the actual player. If Genia kept the ball, they flooded onto him, if he passed, the defenders were sliding onto the recipient of the ball. The whole tactic was helped by Kurtley Beale’s habit of telegraphing a pass by swaying his hips and dipping his shoulder on the side to which he was going to pass the ball.

This is one of those things that tell us how this young Springbok team is developing, step by step.

They used this same system against the All Blacks, and they used it even better against the Wallabies. They are learning, and gaining confidence with each time the tactic works.

I also liked watching the defensive communication amongst the players, with Handré Pollard the obvious defensive general. He was waving arms and directing players into position at every ruck or maul. He was joined by his team mates who also used their hands to indicate where they were and where more resources were needed.

The defensive alignment of the Springbok backs was technically good, based on superb communication and management by the designated leader, Pollard. The outside backs are also learning, even if they did sometimes still tend to drift inside rather than maintain their positioning. Willie le Roux’s influence in guiding his wings was evident throughout.

The pendulum of the fullback covering the space left by a winger on attack while the winger from the far, or uncommitted, side hovering to cover the full back is also starting to work like a well-oiled machine. It was perhaps enhanced by the fact that Cheslin Kolbe has spent most of his career in a 15 jersey and thus has a thorough understanding of the positional requirements in that last bastion.

All in all it was a very well thought out and executed defensive system.

It worked a treat.

Consider this: Australia scored all their points in a three-minute burst just before the 30-minute mark in this game, and were then kept scoreless for the final 50 minutes of the game, despite the Springboks being reduced to 14 men when Dyantyi was sent to the bin with 15 minutes remaining.

That is how good the Springbok defence was.

Perhaps this game shows clearly where the two teams are at present. The Springboks are steadily rising, with a growing confidence in themselves, a growing esprit de corps, and increasing experience and nous. They are supported by a coach who brings innovation and freedom from the fear of losing. They are a team that has shown that they have the mongrel to tough it out, and the razzle-dazzle to run rings around opponents if given half a chance.

Have no doubt that they are still very much a work-in-progress. They will still lose games, and they will still make mistakes, plenty of them. Yet this is all acceptable to real fans as we can see that they are slowly, surely growing. And that is all that we can ask of this team of youngsters.

The Wallabies, in stark contrast, are a team that is still on the way down. There is simply no evidence of any improvement is any aspect of their game since the 1st Test against Ireland in the mid-year.

This was not a great Test match. Not by a long chalk.

After a good first half there followed a mediocre second half riddled with mistakes. The handling was poor, by both teams, the decision making was sometimes weird, and the referee was sometimes equally weird.

But there was much to learn from this Test, if you troubled to look a little deeper.

Individual Player Rating

 South Africa

15 Willie le Roux: 6/10
Safe under the high ball, made all his tackles, and cleared the line without a hitch. But it was his ghosting into the line that caused the most problems, both on attack and in the “what might have been” – A long pass in the 11th minute would have sent Dyantyi to the line for his second try, but just did not find the mark, but then he gave a superb long pass to Pollard in the 15th that triggered a superb counter attacking move. If he had held onto that Kolbe tap-back at the end of the first half yet another try was on the books. Harsh penalty for an intercept that just did not stick, if he had taken that ball he had Dyantyi roaming up outside and unmarked! Great organisation of the defence in the trenches.

14 Cheslin Kolbe: 6/10
Certainly silenced a number of the critics that suggested that he was too small for Test rugby. Made 9 solid tackles, of which 2 were rated as dominant tackles. But he did make a couple of mistakes on defence too, once giving space to Koroibete on his outside and then scrambling and missing the tackle. Missed 3 others in broken play, but made up for it with a number of tackle-assists as the game wore on. Carried the ball 7 times for 68 meters, one great line break, and two runs with space, and managed to find some half-gaps.  Was prominent in looking for work, and can be satisfied with his day at the office.

13 Jesse Kriel: 4/10
Kriel thrives in a partnership where his 12 gives him the ball with space to run, and this was simply not going to happen with Esterhuizen in the 12 jersey. Another of the Bok chances that went abegging was when he threw the high pass to Kolbe that just eluded Folau, and went into touch. Better accuracy would have provided another clear scoring opportunity. A very clever grubber through for Dyantyi just after the half-time restart provided another scoring opportunity, but was overcooked by just a couple of meters. Missed four tackles while making 8, which is not really good enough. Carried the ball just 4 times for 27 meters. Too many handling errors (3) for a Test midfielder.

12 André Esterhuizen: 3/10
Made 11 tackles, of which 6 were very good, dominant hits, but missed 2, which were both exploited by the Wallabies. As a distributer of the ball he scores a big fat ZERO. He passed the ball just once in the entire Test match! He did, however, carry the ball 8 times, making just 24 meters with the ball in hand. An average of just 3 meters per carry is not good enough for a so-called crash-ball specialist. His defensive effort was certainly good enough, but he added nothing at all to the attack or counter-attack. Dropped a pass from le Roux that had potential for spreading the game wide, and fumbled it on two other occasions.

11 Aphiwe Dyantyi: 7/10
If there is one player in the Springbok back division who is learning his trade, and shows it, it is the twinkle toed winger. Made a couple of poor decisions in the wider channel, but also made some very good ones as his defence stepped up a notch. A really superb tackle on Reece Hodge stopped what would have been a certain try four weeks ago. Great intercept try, and created or chased a couple of other chances. Harsh yellow card!

10 Handré Pollard: 8/10
Game by game his confidence is growing, as is his stature as a game manager and general. Probably the best defensive flyhalf in the world today, making 9 tackles and missing none. Two of his tackles are rated as dominant, and he turned the ball over in one of those tackles. But it was his eye for the opening and his quickness in taking the ball to the line that has to be mentioned. He carried the ball for 6 times, making 38 meters in all, made one line break and three tackle bursts, and it was that superb line break and inside pass that gave Faf de Klerk his try.  His boot kept the scoreboard ticking over. A super crosskick to Kolbe, but one potentially attacking lineout was missed when he over-cooked a penalty into the dead-ball area.

9 Francois de Klerk: 6/10
Great pressure on Beale that created Dyantyi’s intercept pass in the first minute, and he kept up that pressure all afternoon, with great support line  running to score his own try. His kicking game was poor with too many balls wasted, but quick, accurate service to Pollard was a feature. He sometimes is accused of trying to do too much by himself, but he certainly kept the Wallaby defenders focussed! Made 5 tackles, missed two. Might not be the greatest game manager, but he is certainly the best the Springboks have got.

8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe: 6/10
Not a game really suited to his wide ranging running style, but that did not stop him from putting in a solid shift. Tackled well, making 10 and missing just 1. Safe on kick-receipt, good leg drive with ball in hand. A fair starting debut.

7 Pieter-Steph du Toit: 9/10
So is he a lock or a flanker? My suggestion would be that he is both! After a superb game in New Zealand, he was at it again against the Wallabies, and thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award. Made 17 tackles, missed 3, but made a crucial turnover too. Carried the ball powerfully and with purpose, supported others who had the ball in hand, and was good at the ruck clean-outs. One blemish was a handling error when a scoring opportunity was looming.

6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain): 8/10
One of his best Springbok performances, if not the best. He was ever-present at the breakdown, which is not supposed to be his area of expertise! Won a turnover when it mattered. Carried the ball 6 times for a staggering 88 meters, but a lack of awareness and a delayed pass at the end of one such superb carry saw a scoring opportunity butchered. One massive counter-ruck that earned a penalty. A good game as captain too, making all the right decisions.

5 Franco Mostert: 7/10
As has become usual, the big lock spent his day toiling in the engine-room and in those places where only the truly brave, or stupidly fearless dare to venture. One massive hit on Dane Haylett-Petty. Great lineout steal just after Dyantyi’s yellow card drew the teeth from a Wallaby attack.

4 Eben Etzebeth: 7/10
A powerful shift in the mauls and carrying the ball. A big presence in the mauls, both on attack and on defence. Won 7 lineouts (missed one) as he became South Africa’s go-to man for the throw. Stole two Aussie lineouts too, and spoilt a couple more. His tackles were menacing, and his carries equally physical. Probably the best of the tight-forwards on view (from both sides.)

3 Frans Malherbe: 5/10
Scrummed well, made all his tackles, supported Etzebeth superbly in the lineouts, but seemed a little reluctant to carry the ball. Nothing spectacular, just very solid in all aspects of his game.

2 Malcolm Marx: 6/10
Just keeps on playing the game the way he knows how. Robust, willing, powerful, and a bit scary at times. Great defence, especially in second half. Made 14 tackles and missed 2. Seemed to be hanging off the tackle or ruck instead of trying to turn the ball over, but I believe that was under tactical instruction as I mentioned in the match report.

1 Tendai Mtawarira: 6/10
For 43 minutes he showed Taniela Tupou that Test match rugby is not as easy as some of the Super Rugby games in which the Tongan Thor built a reputation for devastating scrummaging. The Beast tamed him, and that was a job done! Carried the ball four times and made 5 tackles too.

Replacements:

16 Bongi Mbonambi 5/10 (On for Malcolm Marx, 70th min):
Ever willing, and did what he had to do. Two solid tackles, missed none. One very dominant tackle. Lineouts were spot on. Not much else to report.

17 Steven Kitshoff 6/10 (On for Tendai Mtawarira, 42nd min):
Whether he starts or comes on as a super-sub, the big ginger is going to make the opposition take note of his presence. Immediately put Tupou under pressure in the scrums and the youngster was soon hauled off as he creaked under the pressure. Made a crucial turnover in the 63rd minute with the Springboks under pressure. Tackled like a brick-wall.

18 Wilco Louw 6/10 (On for Frans Malherbe, 62nd min):
Solid in the scrums, pinged by the referee once, although the 73rd minute scrum penalty looked as if it should have gone the other way! He went down on his knee as his opponent seemed to hinge downwards. Not much else to say.
19 Rudolph Snyman (On for Eben Etzebeth, 76th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

20 Marco van Staden 4/10 (On for Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 44th min):
Sent on to provide additional presence over the ball on the ground, and simply vanished. Made no impact on the field. Did make 3 tackles.

21 Embrose Papier:
Not used.

22 Elton Jantjies:
Not used.

23 Damian Willemse:
Not used.

Australia.

15 Dane Haylett-Petty: 7/10
For my book, the best of the Aussie backs, and close to the best of all the backs on the field, although he tended to lack the power to exploit the gaps he opened up. Would get through the first tackle burst, but then be easily stopped by the follow-up tackler. Was smashed in the tackle by Franco Mostert. He gave away needless penalties. Carried the ball well, attacked the kick-receipt with a bit of Ben Smith-like attitude.  He should always start as the Wallaby 15 as he has more technical nous than Folau!

14 Israel Folau: 4/10
Was somewhat anonymous, except in the odd kick-chase. He was well watched by the Springbok defenders and did not get the room he likes to start running with those long strides. Not a great defensive performance either.

13 Reece Hodge: 6/10
The Aussie utility man, everywhere on the field. He played in every position as he carried, tackled, supported, cleaned out, and tried and tried. The best I have seen of him in a Wallaby shirt.

12 Matt Toomua: 4/10
Expected so much more from him, but he was totally shut down by the Springbok defenders, and then seemed to go missing in action. Made 5 carries for 28 meters, and got off 20 passes, but that was about it.

11 Marika Koroibete: 4/10
For such a big powerful runner, he does very little other than wait for the ball to come to him. He had the smallest man in Test rugby marking him, yet could only exploit that massive weight advantage once when he rounded Kolbe rather than trying to run over him. Poor decision making by those inside him meant that he didn’t have enough of the ball, and he did not really go looking for it either.

10 Kurtley Beale: 2/10
Michael Cheika’s experiment with Beale at 10 must surely, surely be over now? He has no presence on the field when playing at pivot, and does nothing worth continuing his selection in this spot! Made some truly horrid decisions, starting with the pass that gave Dyantyi the opening try. His tactical kicking was atrocious. The weakest link in the entire Wallaby team.

9 Will Genia: 7/10
Boy, does he try hard! He was often the one man that kept the Wallabies in the game with clever game management and thinking. Scored a try, made another, made his tackles, fair distribution, although he was harried by De Klerk. Along with Hodge he was one of Aussie’s best.

8 David Pocock: 8/10
What a presence at the breakdown, making four big turnovers, but he was often man-alone in this job as his fellow loosies spent much of the afternoon playing wide, or just wandering around in the midfield. Carried the ball well, with 7 carries for 48 meters. Made 10 tackles, but missed two.

7 Michael Hooper (captain): 5/10
Spent much of the afternoon playing wing, where he made a lot of meters with the ball in hand. 119 meters in 14 carries tells the story. Sadly, he tends to die with the ball after making a good break, and only passed the ball twice all afternoon. Loves to play the roving game, but the problem is that he is a flanker, and he neglects some of the close in work required of a loosie. Made just 7 tackles and missed 2, and no turnovers on the ground, although he did feature in some early clean-outs. Covers a lot of ground, but does not do the basics of loose-forward work!

6 Ned Hanigan: 3/10
A headless chicken? Ran around all afternoon, but achieved absolutely nothing except for a couple of fairly obvious obstructive runs missed by the referee. He is really not an international flanker. Period.

5 Izack Rodda: 4/10
Was supposed to be the physical enforcer, and wasn’t. Struggled to contain Etzebeth and Mostert in the lineouts, swam around a couple of mauls, and made no impact elsewhere. Scrummed well enough.

4 Adam Coleman: 5/10
Another who was overshadowed by his South African opponents. Made a couple of fair carries, but went to ground far too easily. Struggled to come to terms with the Springbok contest at the lineouts and was guilty of playing the man in the air more often than not, somehow without attracting the referee’s attention. Illegal sacking of the maul, and an awful lot of swimming up the sides of the mauls was his biggest contribution.

3 Taniela Tupou: 3/10
After all the hype, the youngster made no impact on the Beast, and even less on Kitshoff later in the game. Held his own, just. He was pulled off in the 50th minute when he looked obviously tired and sore. His ball-carrying ability was also supposed to be a Wallaby weapon, but he was simply smothered out of the game by the Springbok defenders

2 Folau Fainga’a: 2/10
Sadly, he is not a Test level hooker. Period. Too many off-the-ball moments. Tackled backwards whenever he touched the ball, if he could hang on to it!

1 Scott Sio: 4/10
Struggled to stay upright against Malherbe, and was lucky to get away with two obvious collapses and a couple of inward turns. Did nothing with the ball in hand either. Not a great day at the office, although one should say that he endured, mostly.

Replacements:

16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa 5/10 (On for Folau Fainga’a, 62nd min):
His lineouts were better than those of the man he replaced, but were still a bit wayward. He did make some good carries and a couple of solid tackles.

17 Sekope Kepu 3/10 (On for Scott Sio, 50th min):
Anonymous, and did nothing worth commenting on. Somehow gained a penalty off Wilco Louw when he was hinging under the strain of Louw’s shove.

18 Allan Alaalatoa 4/10 (On for Taniela Tupou, 50th min):
Had his hands full with Kitshoff at his powerful best, but did not fold under the pressure. Did very little else at a time when the Wallabies had plenty of possession and territorial advantage, which counts against him.

19 Rory Arnold (On for Izack Rodda, 70th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

20 Rob Simmons (On for Adam Coleman, 70th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

21 Nick Phipps (On for Will Genie, 70th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

22 Bernard Foley 5/10 (On for Jack Maddocks, 59th min):
Brought some stability to the flyhalf position, but no sparkle or new ideas.

23 Jack Maddocks 5/10 (On for Marika Koroibete, 31st min):
Seemed a bit out of his depth, although he was ever willing to go looking for work. Made a couple of good tackles. Was it an injured hand that saw him leave after just 28 minutes?

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Dyantyi, De Klerk
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 3

For Australia:
Tries: Hodge, Genia
Con: Toomua

Yellow card: Aphiwe Dyantyi (South Africa, 65 – repeated infringements)

Teams:

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier , 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

Australia: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks