Grappling decidedly pronouncedly in the wet, South Africa not only looked impotent with ball in hand but also struggled badly in the set-pieces.
The first of The Citizen’s Bok ratings then don’t look particularly promising.
15 – Willie le Roux (7/10): Has grown into the consummate fullback. At the heart of South Africa’s limited attacking initiatives, kicked decently from hand and secure under the high ball. Two late errors bring down his rating.
14 – Cornal Hendricks (6/10): Opportunities were painfully limited for the Sevens exponent but had a decisive hand in Ruan Pienaar’s early try and his cover defending was solid.
13 – Damian de Allende (6/10): Biggest contribution on debut was a vital intervention in the dying minutes when an Argentinian charge-down almost translated into a late score. Looked dangerous on the attack when he slotted in at inside centre.
12 – Jean de Villiers (4/10): Rather flat outing for the reliable skipper. Made questionable on-field calls as leader, which also extended to some poor options on attack as ball-carrier.
11 – Bryan Habana (5/10): No real attacking opportunities out wide to him but the veteran remains a guy constantly looking for work.
10 – Handre Pollard (3/10): One shouldn’t panic, it’s inevitable that a 20-year-old rookie experience growing pains and this was it. This game perhaps exposed that his kicking game isn’t as refined as initially thought. Yet given he’s composure, he’ll take this lesson in his stride.
9 – Ruan Pienaar (7/10): Best showing in the Green-and-Gold for some time. Scored the crucial five-pointer and provided much-needed relief with his tactical kicking. Looks a far better halfback when conditions are slower.
8 – Duane Vermeulen (7/10): Colossal as always in the collisions. A few storming runs in the second half and fine defending throughout.
7 – Marcell Coetzee (6/10): Did exactly what was expected of him after being summoned at the eleventh hour to replace the injured Willem Alberts.
6 – Francois Louw (7/10): Remains the Boks’ go-to guy at the breakdowns and clearly relishes that responsibility. Defended robustly with Vermeulen.
5 – Lood de Jager (5/10): Needed to take a share of the blame for Boks’ line-out troubles but seemed to imrpove once Eben Etzebeth partnered him in the second half.
4 – Bakkies Botha (4/10): Another of the veterans that underperformed badly. Didn’t contribute with his usual physical presence and struggled at line-out time.
3 – Jannie du Plessis (4/10): Had to withstand big pressure at the scrums and always looks more anonymous when he’s not carrying the ball effectively. Slipped a few tackles as well.
2 – Bismarck du Plessis (5/10): His work at the line-outs was shoddy and not as influential at the breakdown as usual.
1 – Beast Mtawarira (4/10): Epitomised South Africa’s struggles at the scrum.
Adriaan Strauss (5/10): Enthusiastic in broken play but didn’t make a noticeable difference in the set-pieces. (Replaced B du Plessis, 56 min)
Frans Malherbe (6/10): Concedes a penalty during his first scrum but impresses with his commitment on defence, making three tackles in a fairly short space of time. (Replaced J du Plessis, 67 min)
Eben Etzebeth (6/10): His brio ignites a bit of fire into the forwards’ effort and seemed to influence the line-out more positively. Discipline a problem though. (Replaced Botha, 41 min)
Morne Steyn (6/10): Showed his experience with some astute tactical kicking that was sorely needed. (Replaced Pollard, 46 min)