2019 Rugby Championships.

Round One Review

The 2019 Rugby Championship kicked off in Johannesburg at Ellis Park, and then continued over in Buenos Aires on Saturday 20thJuly.

The two referees blew their whistles to start the respective matches and, almost immediately, both cities were enveloped by a hazy red cloud of dust that overshadowed both test matches, swirling, dipping, and gathering then parting, only to immediately thicken up again, much like the sea mist we often get in the seaside village I call home..

But, this was no natural phenomenon, this was no sea mist. 

It was the red dust of ring rust being knocked off the players as they clattered into each other with plenty of gusto, but very little refinement or polish. Be it a Springbok or a Wallaby, be it a Puma or an All Black, the early season rustiness was evident throughout the southern hemisphere’s premier competition.

Of course, none of this was unexpected, and none of this rustiness is a permanent affliction. 

At least, so we hope.

Of the four sides on show it was the Springbok “B” team that seemed to find a tiny bit of form and cohesion, despite their somewhat derogatory status as an “experimental” team. What they did do was demonstrate the depth of talent that is available to the Springboks, if they can continue to bring in some of those overseas based players and add them to the rising stars on the local scene, and they are then properly utilised and prepared by their coaches. They showed that there is some excitement, some hope for the future of Springbok rugby, especially after the dark days of the Allister Coetzee era and the recovery that started last year.

The New Zealanders also fielded a somewhat depleted team, and they too again demonstrated the depth of talent they have available in their country – imagine how powerful they would be if they could draw in some of their overseas based players?

Sadly, both the Wallabies and the Argentineans, for all their on-field endeavours and bravery, also provided evidence of their lack of player resources beyond their starting XV and a couple of bench-warmers.

In essence, the weekend’s rugby suggested that the All Blacks and the Springboks are likely to get better and better as they deploy some of those players who were held back this past weekend for one reason or another, while the Wallabies may struggle if any of their top-line players are injured and they have to dip down into their reserve stocks. The Argentineans are already fielding the entire barrel – there is no scraping of the bottom of any barrel available to them.

As a series of warm-ups for the Rugby World Cup, perhaps we should not read too much into the weekend’s games. It is still far to early to either celebrate, or panic. Time will tell us when the moment of panic is upon us.

Argentina v New Zealand 

Venue: Jose Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires
Referee Angus Gardner (Australia)

This Test match qualifies for the status of “Ugly Game of the Weekend.”

Not that there were any ugly incidents, or untoward moments. This was also not one of those ruck-fests that are much-adored by the English fans as their teams bash their way upfield in mud and blood, eschewing finesse and frippery in favour of brute force. There was none of that sheer brutality and physicality of a bunch of forward behemoths clattering into each other.

It was more than that – both teams tried to move the ball around, both teams tried to carry the ball, and both teams tried to counter-attack off misdirected kicks and moments of inaccuracy.

Sadly though, neither team seemed capable of doing anything other than look increasingly scrappy and confused.

The Pumas will wake up on Sunday morning knowing that they had blown the best chance they have had of beating the All Blacks since their successful draw back in 1985. If they had been able to play cohesive, focussed rugby for 80 minutes, the All Black scalp was theirs for the taking.

It is not likely that they will get a better chance in the near future.
Despite their inability to finish their scoring opportunities, the All Blacks still managed to hold out the desperate Argentineans, who became increasingly desperate as the game wore on.

Steve Hansen acknowledged afterwards that the All Blacks have plenty to work on after trying a host of new combinations. It was also apparent that he was prepared to risk losing the game in order to blood some of the rookies in his squad – sending them onto the field when the game was still a long way from being secured.

As I said in my preview to this weekend’s Tests, I was unsure whether a team that features 13 starting players from the same team, the Jaguares, would translate into a Test level performance. The Pumas were committed, focussed, and fearless, but were just not able to step up their intensity and clinicality from a Super Rugby level to a Test match level. In the Super final they played a tremendous game, yet fell short of the level required to win that trophy. Against the All Blacks they also seemed to struggle for that extra moment, that extra bit of class, that moment of magic that separates Test match rugby from all other rugby.

In essence, a depleted All Blacks played poorly, yet the Pumas were not good enough to take advantage and bank their first ever win over the New Zealanders.

Some players who stood out:

(I am not going to do a player-by-player analysis of the teams, but I will mention a couple of the players.)

Sam Cane.

I thought Sam Cane had a very good game in his first Test back from that horrendous neck injury suffered in South Africa a year ago. He was involved in the few worthwhile attacks launched by the All Blacks, and was outstanding on defence. He made 12 tackles, although he slipped 3. Probably the best forward on view.

Beauden Barrett

In a hugely scrappy and inaccurate game, Beauden Barrett was in a class of his own as he took on and split the Argentinean defence time and again. He looked dangerous with the ball in hand, especially when he turned on the afterburners. Great game management in difficult circumstances, a good kicking game, and a good defensive performance too. One superb try-saving tackle probably won the game for the All Blacks.

Augustin Creevy

Perhaps overdid the “Not Guilty” plea with raised eyebrows and fingers pointing at his chest every time Angus Gardner blew the whistle. That is the way he plays, working at casting doubt in the referee’s mind without actually arguing the moment. He played with lots of intent and focus, passion too, and his quiet on-field leadership was evident as Pablo Matera would ask his opinion on almost every penalty and set piece decision.

Guido Petti

Quietly becoming one of the best locks in word rugby. Safe in the lineouts, super on defence, and good in the carry, with the ability to offload and pass that is missing from his lock partner Tomas Lavanini’s game. Managed to take two turnovers off the All Blacks too.

Pablo Matera

A little less impressive in the Test than he was in the Super Final. Matera ran hard and tackled like a demon. Very very lucky to escape a yellow card for a deliberate knockdown late in the piece.

Brodie Retallick

Boy, does he have a turn of pace for a big fella? That interception was a thing of beauty.

Ardie Savea – 7.5

As industrious as ever, bouncing off tackles, putting his head down and driving as only he can. It was fun to watch him with the ball in hand.

And that is about all I have to say about a somewhat boring, error ridden, game of rugby that was not quite worthy of the status of a Test Match.

South Africa v Australia

Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee Paul Williams (New Zealand)

When the Wallabies lose, which they have done rather a lot lately, coach Michael Cheika inevitably launches into a litany of complaints against the referee. In the recent past he has had a go at almost every referee in the rugby world, save for his fellow-countryman, Angus Gardner. He has complained about Nigel Owens, considered by many to be the best referee in the world, suggesting that he is biased against Australia. He has had a go at Wayne Barnes, Jerome Garcias, Jaco Peyper, Luke Pearce, Mathieu Raynal, Ben O’Keefe, Pascal Gauzere, and Romain Poite. (Then again, almost everyone in rugby has had a go at Romain Poite, so we will forgive him for that one.)

This week he is having a go at Paul Williams.

The yellow card shown to Taniela Tupou was “the wrong call” according to Mr Cheika.

Tupou was shown a yellow card for an incredibly stupid clean-out on Rynhardt Elstadt, after the referee had already blown the whistle to award a scrum to Australia.

Michale Cheika is adamant that flanker Rynhardt Elstadt should have been the one spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin. “The other guy [Springbok] should have been sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder charge.” 

Of course, Mr Cheika’s opinion is expressed after the referee and the TMO reviewed both Elstadt’s entry into the ruck and Tupou’s response. They both said that there was “nothing in it” as far as Elstadt’s entry was concerned, and both agreed that Tupou had stepped over the line with his clean-out, and had done so after the whistle.

Some might suggest that the yellow card was a tad harsh, but we know that World Rugby has instructed the referees to treat any such transgression with immediate sanction. We can go further and suggest that this is just the first of such yellow cards that will litter the game between this weekend and the final whistle in the Rugby World Cup later this year. The message is being sent out, the referees will not allow dangerous contact to the head.

Oddly, Mr Cheika is complaining about the card that was shown to Tupou, but not the card shown to Andre Esterhuizen for a head-high tackle where the Aussie ducked into the tackle that started at shoulder height, earlier in the game.

Interesting too that Michael Hooper, in his after-match interview, could allude to the fact that the Springboks “took advantage” of the yellow card. He seems to forget that the Wallabies also had an opportunity against a 14-man Springbok lineup– and failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority.

As for the comments by that paragon of impartiality, Phil Kearns, I will not dignify his rantings with a reply. His hot air huffing and puffing has entertained us for a long time.

I guess the bottom line to the Wallabies’ coach and his response to their loss is that he knowns they blew the best chance they have had of beating the Springboks at Ellis Park since 1963. 

They had their chances, but botched two clear try-scoring opportunities with a forward pass and a fumble, and a possible third was saved by the Springbok scramble defence of Sbu Nkosi, while one of their tries could be considered somewhat fortunate as more than a little obstructive running occurred during the moments before the breakthrough. 

In the first half the Springboks were more than a little disjointed, evidence of a team that had not played together and needed a run to get the gears oiled and turning in the same direction. During the first 40 the Wallabies were probably slightly the better of the two teams in general play, their defensive approach was focussed and accurate, while their attack was more creative than it has been for some time. Sadly, their inability to take their chances, coupled to an inability to take advantage of their numerical superiority in the time that Andre Esterhuizen was in the bin, resulted in a team that started to lose focus and become more and more conservative in their approach.

They played right into the Springboks’ hands when they reverted to type and started to hammer away at the midfield, with Samu Kerevi almost refusing to pass the ball as he ran into Andre Esterhuizen and a cluster of forwards time after time. Tevita Kuridrani, the powerhouse line breaker at 13, saw the ball just 5 times in the entire game, and when he did get the ball he seemed to be getting it with between two and four Springboks coming at him with mayhem in mind..

As the first half progressed one could see the Springboks start to settle and get into their game. They were still very rough around the edges, but a semblance of continuity had come into their game, and their often disjointed defence had started to tighten up.

They also showed remarkable resilience to score twice while Andre Esterhuizen cooled his heels in the naughty chair. The Springboks were playing the game with some impressive intent and physicality, and most importantly, a smile. A smile that was not visible anywhere in the Wallaby team.

At half-time the Wallabies may well have thought that they were still in it with a great chance for the win. They were just four points adrift, behind 14 – 10, and had enjoyed the better of possession and territory, although their inability to score may well have worried some. They would have gone back onto the field for the second half with some plans for the winning of the game.

Sadly for their supporters, the Wallabies’ second half didn’t go to plan.

The Springboks remerged from the changeroom and immediately showed a different side to their game. They upped their game management and control significantly, and started to shut the Wallabies out at the important moments.

As the Springbok pressure mounted, so did the Wallaby wobbles.

They started to make basic mistake – tackles with a head on the wrong side, positional mistakes, after-the-whistle cleanouts, and leaving channels open on defence. It all mounted up as the Springboks started to hammer away at the Wallaby defence in their own 22m area.

Some are suggesting that the 35 – 17 scoreline flatters the Springboks, those missed Aussie opportunities amounted to the 17 point difference between the two teams, but I would counter with my own observation that that the ring rustiness of some of the Springboks, and the over-eagerness of some of the youngsters robbed the Springboks of no less than 3 more clear try scoring opportunities. Small handling errors, a pass or two that was just not quite on the button, a pass that was a moment too slow, an offload that did not go to hand – it was these small things that told of a Springbok team that was not quite firing on all cylinders, yet the machine was working well enough for them to turn up the pressure and pull away from the increasingly desperate Wallabies.

Both sides will be pleased with the performance of some of their players – on the Aussie side Nick White was as good as it gets at scrumhalf, his tactical kicking caused the Springboks some worries. Isi Naisarani had a good debut at 8, while Tom Banks, whilst not perfect, was fairly solid at the back where he had to fill the boots of one Israel Folau.

The Springboks will, however, be vastly more pleased with the performance of some of their rookies, with Herschel Jantjies announcing his arrival on the international scene with a worthy Man-of-the-Match performance. He looked as if he was born in the role of Springbok 9 as he ignored the harassment of Nick White, and delivered an accurate, quick service off the base of the set-pieces and rucks, kicked well, and was a nuisance around the fringes, all the time. It was Nick White that looked the more harassed as Jantjies caught him at the back on more than one occasion.

That try around the blindside of the ruck was a gem worthy of the late great Joost van der Westhuizen! (I am not sure what Dane Haylett-Petty and Matt Toomua were thinking, but they made the unbelievable error of leaving a corridor for Jantjies to exploit, although I am not sure they would have stopped him in full flight anyway.)

Equally pleasing for Springbok supporters was the form and experience brought by some of the overseas contingent. Frans Steyn showed that class is permanent and that you cannot buy natural talent and experience.

Cobus Reinach was steady, and took his chance to score with total focus.

Marcel Coetzee was a little quiet, but solid as he made his tackles and carried the ball well.

Rassie Erasmus was absolutely correct when he said that the performance wasn’t close to world class. However, he will be happy that his “experimental B” produced a good win in a game that I felt sure he was prepared to sacrifice as he works towards getting the team prepared for the World Cup.

He admitted that he expected a wholly different game plan from the Aussies, and that he had got their plan wrong.

“That caught us off-guard, I totally expected a long-kicking game. But we spent 60 percent of the match in our own half because of those box-kicks. I got that wrong,”said Erasmus at the post-match media scrum.

The very fact that the Springboks could prepare for a different Wallaby game, and still adapt to what was in front of them on the field is telling. “Play what is in front of you!” has long been the All Black maxim, and now the Springboks are doing it too!

This is a Springbok team that has the potential to go all the way!

My Player Ratings:

South Africa

Warrick Gelant: 4

Kicking away turnover possession is criminal, and then overcooking it straight into touch is almost treasonous! Kicking turnover possession away twice is almost intergalactically stupid. His positional play was a bit wobbly in the first half but improved considerably as the game wore on. Kicked the ball away a tad too often. I am not a fan of the shimming, hesitation waltz, goose-stepping-before-running moments that Warrick Gelant so loves. Against better opponents it would be a suicidal moment. However, he did make some  good intrusions into the line, ran well with the ball in hand, and seemed to kick on as the game progressed. Produced some very nice support play with a good  offload in S’bu Nkosi’s try. Great tackle on Michael Hooper.

S’bu Nkosi: 5

Struggled to compete under the high ball. His lack of height perhaps contributing to some soft moments when competing with the towering Reece Hodge. Great finishing for his try, and showed growing maturity and composure. Was good to see him go looking for work. Did not get much space to move in, but showed his ability when the moment presented itself. Gave the final pass for Herschel Jantjies’ first try, and then scored his own!

Jesse Kriel: 5

Did nothing wrong for the most part. Did concede a penalty for offside in the first half, and struggled to manage the defence in the wider channels – a communication problem perhaps? Made his tackles, had a hand in Nkosi’s try, and started to find his game in the second half. An average game, at best.

Andre Esterhuizen: 4  

Seemed strangely subdued on a day where the rest of the team were playing with some excitement and energy. Made some very good tackles, a couple of good tackles, great handling in the build-up to Jantjies’ first try. Kicked the ball badly, and unnecessarily, also kicking away turnover possession. A silly high tackle and time in the sin-bin that allowed the Wallabies to engineer the man-over and score. Did not seem to have any working relationship with Elton Jantjies.  

Makazole Mapimpi: 4

The Wallabies had read about him, and they planned to shut him down, and they did. Frustrating day as he did not get the opportunity to run. His defence alignment went wobbly a couple of times as he got sucked in too many times. Tackled well in the one-on-one moments. Chased well enough, but did not compete for the ball when he got under it.

Elton Jantjies 6

He enjoyed the time and space that his namesake scrumhalf gave him with good crisp passing. The flyhalf made use of the accurate service to manage the game well, especially in the second half. Tactical kicking was accurate for a change, and his goal kicking was spot on. His defence remains a pitiful thing as he missed two while making 7, but the stats do not show the back-pedalling to get out of the tackle-zone and the two tackles that he missed completely. Strange that the Wallabies did not attack his channel more.

Herschel Jantjies: 9

What a start to a Test match career! If he kicks on from here, Herschel Jantjies will be starting in the 9 jersey for a long time to come, with the likes of Faf de Klerk sitting on the bench! A game of maturity beyond his years and beyond many expectations, with assured handling, great game management, accurate box kicking, super anticipation, gutsy defence, and constant harassment of his vastly more experienced opponent Nick White! … And, then there was the superb sniping and linking play. His support play led directly to the pressure point from where Lood de Jager scored his try. His blindside break and try reminded me of Joost van der Westhuizen’s try against Scotland.

Francois Louw 8

Money cannot buy experience. No money can buy tactical nous and the ability to target the moment. Francois Louw has the experience, he has the nous, and knows how to target the ball at the turnover. Those that doubted the Springboks game on the ground without Malcolm Marx and Duane Vermeulen would do well to apologise to Flo!  He carried strongly, played to the ball all afternoon, and made his steals when they were really necessary, including the one that set up the Springboks’ first try. Slowed the Wallaby ball down all afternoon, depriving them of the opportunity to strike from broken play. And all this while flying under the referee’s radar.

Pieter-Steph du Toit: 8

There is not much that one can say about a man I rate as one of the best rugby forwards on the planet at the moment. He made some monstrous tackles, 15 of them, missing just 1. He carried the ball with power and aggression, clattering into Wallabies with a physicality that makes lesser mortal wince. He spent the afternoon carrying, tackling,  passing, linking, breaking the line, smashing over tacklers, and generally causing mayhem. That chip ahead after a good carry, and then the chase by his scrumhalf was rugby worthy of a top flyhalf, not something you expect from a giant of over 2m in height. Simply outstanding.

Rynhardt Elstadt 5

Might have seemed a little invisible, but only because he was doing the dirty work right in the hard stuff of the game. Reminded one of legends like Rueben Kruger and Boland Coetzee – if you saw then on the field they were not doing their job. A solid Test debut, but might be deemed just a little slow for the openside role? Great offload in the build-up to Sbu Nkosi’s try. Made some crunching tackles, missed a couple. Was finding his feet as the game progressed and can be happy with a solid debut.

Lood de Jager: 6

With so little game time under his belt, just 50 minutes last weekend, in Currie Cup action after almost six months recovering from injury, Lood de Jager can be very happy with his return to Springbok rugby. Grabbed seven lineouts, albeit fumbling one rather badly, scrummed well, great work rate around the park. A good, powerfully taken try. Needs game time to get match fit.

Eben Etzebeth 8

A game where his captaincy was more important than his general play, he made all the right calls and led the team very well in the absence of Siya Kolisi. Led by example with big carries, bigger hits, and serious commitment. Needed the run to get his fitness going, but seemed to find something extra in the second half. A superb cover tackle on the touchline demonstrated his value to the team, and his never-say-die attitude.

Trevor Nyakane: 6

Good solid display in the set-pieces, although a little invisible in the wider areas. Did not see much of his ball carrying, and was a bit slow on the clean-outs. However, a solid performance, and did his job in the scrums very well, which is the job he was chosen to do.

Bongi Mbonambi: 5.5

Not quite as fit as he would like to be, he was all over the park until he seemed to run out of puff. His scrummaging was powerful. Lineouts a bit wobbly, but you cannot blame him if Lood de Jager allows the ball to go through his hands! Gave away an unnecessary off-side penalty. Otherwise a very solid game by a man who is clearly not 100% fit yet. Needs more game time after coming back from injury. 

Tendai Mtawarira: 6

The old fella scrummed like a bull elephant trying to push over a 300-year old oak, and succeeding. He was hugely pumped up after one scrum when he demolished Sekope Kepu. It was simply the culmination of an afternoon where he scrummed Kepu into submission time after time. He might have handed the first choice mantle to Steven Kitshoff, but is still the automatic choice as the back-up loosehead in the Springbok squad. Was a little quieter than usual in open play, but still made a few good runs with ball in hand.

Replacements:

16 Schalk Brits 6 (on for Mbonambi, 53rd minute)
The team Daddy brought all his energy and enjoyment to the field when he came on. A couple of good tackles, some great carries, beating a couple of defenders. Enjoyed himself, as he always does. 

17 Lizo Gqoboka 6 (on for Mtawarira, 47th minute)
Scrummed well, made a couple of good tackles, and carried the ball with purpose. Powerful cleanouts at the rucks, good support at the lineouts. A good day at the office. 

18 Vincent Koch 6 (on for Nyakane, 53rd minute)
One of the quiet men that play tighthead – they all tend to be quite and very very strong. Made some good tackles, and his power in the scrum hurt debutant Johnstone-Holmes when he came on. 

19 Marvin Orie 4 (on for De Jager, 67th minute)
Rather quiet on the field, seemed overwhelmed by the occasion.  Made a carry or two, took a lineout. Nothing more. But did nothing wrong.

20 Marcel Coetzee 5 (on for Elstadt, 67th minute)
Rather invisible, but made some solid carries and a couple of huge hits on defence. No presence over the ball, which is a pity. 

21 Cobus Reinach 5 (on for H. Janjties, 67th minute)
Solid performance as a sub. Could not match the sparkle of the man he replaced, but on the day few could. Ran well with ball in hand and provided a steady service to his backs. A well taken try too.  He made solid runs and scored the bonus-point try for the Boks.


22 Frans Steyn 8 (on for Esterhuizen, 52nd minute)
What a difference he made when he took over from Andre Esterhuizen. Brought energy and work-rate that had been missing in the 12 berth, with six carries, a couple of good solid tackles, especially one on Kurtley Beale that the Aussie will have some ice on today.  Seemed to give Elton Jantjies a boost in his confidence just when it was needed. He was the man that gave the Boks a lot of go-forward in the final quarter.

23 Dillyn Leyds
Not used.

Australia

15 Tom Banks 5
Solid, but nothing spectacular. Dropped a kick that he should have held. Did not produce the kind of lethal running we saw in Super Rugby. Helped in the run up to Dane Haylett-Petty’s try and kicked well.

14 Dane Haylett-Petty 4
Not a day he will want to remember, and he certainly will avoid watching the highlights package, as he only features prominently when things went pear-shaped. Knocked and fumbled a try scoring opportunity. Massive blunder to join the ruck and leave his wing channel wide open for Herschel Jantjies to exploit. Made far too many basic mistakes. Oh, and he scored a try, but that does not make things better. 

13 Tevita Kuridrani 4
You cannot play rugby without the ball, and Samu Kerevi was not going to give it to Kuridrani. Just 5 carries, making 3 meters. He was tackled into submission by Jesse Kriel and the Springbok loosies and eventually subbed in the 58thminute.

12 Samu Kerevi 6
He gets a rating of 6 because he caused the Springbok defence a couple of problems, but should be marked down for his selfishness with the ball in hand. At the Reds he is their playmaker/ball-carrier/line-breaker and the centre-pivot of all that is Reds’ backplay. In this Wallaby outfit they need him to pass the ball into the wider channels sometimes. Made a couple of good carries and beat a defender or two. 

11 Reece Hodge 3
Reece Who? He struggled under the high ball, was slow on the chase, and fumbled when given the ball. A day he would rather forget. 

10 Bernard Foley 5
A steady, journeyman performance, with nothing to suggest that he would break open the game for his team. His game management was average, his kicking equally average. His decision making? Well that was average too. Hence he gets an average 5 rating.

9 Nic White 8.
Probably the best Wallaby on the pitch. He read the game well, played a very good tactical kicking game, chasing the Springboks back into their own territory time and again. Good speed to the breakdown with crisp clean and accurate passing. Was a bit nonplussed when his attempts to rattle Herschel Jantjies failed, and was a little harassed by the South African at times.

8 Isi Naisarani 6
A quite debut, did nothing wrong, but was simply overshadowed by the Springbok loosies. Failed to impose himself at the breakdowns. A fairly good first start, he will get better.

7 Michael Hooper 5
Hooper does not play to any discernible game plan or role. He simply wanders the field, popping up all over the show as a perennial ball chaser. He makes plenty of tackles and carries the ball a lot. Likes to pop up in the wing channel.  However, he was missing in action at the breakdown, and this is, surely, his primary role as an opensider? He failed to make a single steal at the breakdown. Broke from the scrums illegally on a number of occasions but was not caught by the referee. I am always unsure of his captaincy.

6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 7
A forward pass robbed him of what would have been a deserved try. Otherwise a solid performance by the tallest of the Wallaby loosies. Covered a lot of ground, made plenty of tackles, and worked hard all afternoon. 

5 Rory Arnold 7
Wow, he has perfected the art of disrupting a maul. He seems to slide through the centre of a maul, with those long arms reaching over to take hold of the ball carrier time and again. Good in the lineouts, and good on defence. Perhaps not the most impressive scrummager, he was the best of the Wallaby tight five.  

4 Izack Rodda 5
Seemed a bit subdued, almost as if in awe of the Springbok second rowers. Not his usual industrious self, and he lacked presence in the midfield, where he is often a tower of strength.


3 Sekope Kepu 3
He got beat, Period. Struggled in the scrums and conceded a couple of scrum penalties as “The Beast” Tendai Mtawarira got the better of him. He was happy to go off after 46 minutes.

2 Folau Fainga’a 4
Struggled in the scrums, which seemed to sap the aggression and focus from his game. His lineouts were okay.

1 James Slipper 5
Solid, but not spectacular, and only just held on in the scrums until he was forced to leave the field in the 48th minute after taking an accidental knee in the head in a tackle.

Replacements:

16 Jordan Uelese (on for Fainga’a, 65th minute)
Lasted all of two minutes as he made a tackle on Schalk Brits with his head on the wrong side of the tackle.  Off he went, not sure whether he was in Johannesburg or Sydney.

17 Harry Johnson-Holmes 4 (on for Slipper, 48th minute)
He would probably have preferred the opportunity to finish the schnitzel he was having last week when he got called away from dinner to come out to South Africa. Conceded an early penalty in the scrum and never got to grips with the power of the Springbok front row. Made a couple of runs and tackles.

18 Taniela Tupou 4 (on for Kepu, 46th minute)
A really stupid moment to earn the yellow card for  hit after the whistle, a disaster for his team, and he did not seem to be able to come back into the game after that. Does not pass the ball in the carry.

19 Rob Simmons 5 (On for Rodda, 58th minute)
Solid enough, but brought nothing extra to the field. 

20 Jack Dempsey
Not enough time to be rated.

21 Will Genia 5 (on for White, 64th minute)
Invisible after taking over from White. Seemed a little unfit? His service was fair and he passed well, but zero influence on the game.

22 Matt To’omua 4 (On for Kuridrani, 58th minutes)
Not sure whether he will want to talk about his game, ever. Massive defensive slip-up to allow Herschel Jantjies the space down the blindside, missed some more tackles, and did nothing with the ball in hand. 

23 Kurtley Beale 4 (On for Banks, 58th minutes)
His usual bustling runs, but more of the selfishness that we have seen before, he makes a great run and then hangs onto the ball a moment or three too long. Fresh legs, certainly, but did not do much more than roam around making some rather pointless if good looking carries. He did have a hand in Bernard Foley’s try.