Fourie, Eben power so-so Boks

Fourie du Preez (Gallo Images)
Fourie du Preez (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Eben Etzebeth in the pack and veteran Fourie du Preez just behind it produced suitably commanding performances as South Africa duly saw off the currently bankrupt Australia at Newlands here on Saturday.

As it happened: Boks v Wallabies

In a strangely hot and cold showing from the Springboks, just how costly their failure to register a bonus point for four tries – they dotted three, including a very promising two within the first 15 minutes – will be remains to be seen.

There were long periods in the middle phase of the match when their play became rather disjointed and muted, though the fact remains that they beat leading rivals in the world by 20 points which is no mean feat while not firing on all cylinders.

Du Preez, making his first start for two years, was official player of the match, although on the Sport24 card Etzebeth was no less herculean for work-rate and sheer 'presence' and earns a share of our top billing.

My Bok ratings:

Zane Kirchner 6.5

Decent day at the office for oft-criticised fullback. Positional play was sound, chased high kicks determinedly and showed desire to get involved in running moves. Nicely on hand to round off attractive, long-range Bok try in 15th minute.

Willie le Roux 6.5

Kicked one ball out on full, but became more and more influential as game wore on and showed wonderful composure to dot third try in very little space, millimetres inside corner flag.

JJ Engelbrecht 6

Crucially involved in try-scoring move from well inside Boks’ own half, but again battled a little to impose himself overall to meaningful extent.

Jean de Villiers 7

Where does the captain get his batteries from?

Appetite and awareness near-constant, and flung out wonderful initial pass to spark Kirchner try. Huge yards by the stalwart as late as 78th minute to bring down a flying Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Bryan Habana 6

Another day where little opportunity to reach power-fifth gear came his way, although always alert to potential breakaway opportunities, one of his career-long strong suits.

Morné Steyn 6.5

Quietly amassed another 13 points off the tee; mere normal service for the kick machine! Revelled at times in his old Bulls ally Du Preez’s crisp service, and put out some beauties of his own.

Perhaps faded a tad after dominating start to this Test.

Fourie du Preez 8

Ah, the little general really hasn’t lost his 'rank'! Terrific first half, especially, with his long, authoritative pass and fine anticipation giving near-constant oomph to Bok attacking initiatives.

Final pass in two Bok tries confirmed his Midas Touch.

One or two passes around ankles, and some tactical kicks did go awry, but this was nevertheless some comeback as a Bok starter.

Duane Vermeulen 5.5

Didn’t manage here to emulate his striking form from the Antipodean leg of the competition.

Conceded a couple of penalties, and got annoying 10 minutes in the bin for cynical slap-down when Boks were under rare cosh – may have been costly in elusive hunt for fourth try.

Willem Alberts 6

Again got involved a little more fitfully as an individual than we might like, though as James Horwill noted afterwards, Bok pack is based around brawny men working for each other, and the big fellow is ever-forceful when there’s a rumbling maul on the go.

Francois Louw 7

Not for first time this season, premier Bok loose forward.

Tremendous work ethic, including several hugely important, perhaps slightly unsung tackles when Wallabies were building threatening numbers on attack.

Rattled opposite number in pilfering stakes, Michael Hooper.

Flip van der Merwe 6.5

Good first 39 minutes with clean pouching of kick-offs, and polished lineout play as he continues to demonstrate he can be a dependable Test 'five'.

But still prone to yellow cards and got one on stroke of halftime for rogue elbow, which curbed Bok momentum early in second period.  

Eben Etzebeth 8

Home ground, big game! Sometimes the young powerhouse is taken for granted; imagine how irresistible he might be in 2-3 years.

Put in an excellent, explosive shift, combining the skills of both a No 4 and No 5 lock.

Always a willing carrier and cleaner ... and some monster hits. 

Jannie du Plessis 6

Scrum penalties went both ways with regularity, so difficult to gauge his level of authority at No 3.

Little noticeable involvement outside the set piece, so 50th game for Boks only satisfactory.

Adriaan Strauss 7.5

Aren’t the Bok lucky to have two such world-class hookers?

Fully took advantage of his start here, doing his basics with customary efficiency and carrying with great gusto in first half.

Also barrelled over unstoppably from short range for Boks’ first try.

Tendai Mtawarira 7

Welcome urgent, energetic showing by the loosehead against the Aussie scrum spoilers, also offering strong, smothering tackles in open play -- and one lovely dummy with ball in hand.

Standout substitute:

Bismarck du Plessis 7

Missed a couple of lineout throws – it can be tricky getting this dead right when you come on cold as a second-half substitute – but otherwise his normal, thunderous self for muscular aggression. Also won a heel against the head at his very first scrum soon after entering fray in 50th minute.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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