Bok ratings: Uzair evades the zzzzz ...

Uzair Cassiem (Gallo Images)
Uzair Cassiem (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - At least it is all over.

As it happened: Wales v Springboks

Perhaps the most wretched Springbok calendar year of the post-1991 era ended with an almost inevitable whimper on Saturday as they succumbed by a clear-cut 27-13 even to relatively humdrum Wales in Cardiff.

Coach Allister Coetzee finished 2016 with a four from 12 Test record, the kind of statistic many earlier Bok generations would brand dismally unforgivable, although at the time of writing he had seemed just about defiant enough in his desire to stay put into next year - like it or not.

His charges showed patches of improved general pace and intensity in this match … but only patches.

In between, some of the mistakes, wrong options or instances of rank indecision were contagious, and utterly deflating to already gatvol supporters.

Again, too, collective body language turned obviously fragile as it became apparent there was no real clue among the troops, from their leader down, about how to claw back a significant deficit of 20-6 early in the second half.

“These were nervous players, insecure about themselves, and the game-plan,” lamented Nick Mallett in what became simply another examination of a corpse in the SuperSport studio afterwards.

There were certain, very isolated examples of individual redemption, as evidenced below.

Here’s how I rated the Boks out of 10 in Cardiff:

Johan Goosen: 3

Only made the dropping of Willie le Roux after Florence look that much more insane. So clearly a fish out of water at No 15, and easily dispossessed or driven back a couple of times through poor technique with ball in hand or predictable run angles. One or two good right-footed relieving kicks under pressure.

Ruan Combrinck: 3

Unfortunate early fumble seemed to only set tone for others to follow suit … and there were other spillages and wider gremlins from him. Has lost mojo considerably in late season.

Francois Venter: 4

As with Combrinck, hands looked fallible at times, though he did produce moments of purpose and directness on attack, and at least kept going …  

Rohan Janse van Rensburg: 4.5  

Very early on, offered some welcome go-forward with his bustling strength. But he was also inexplicably skipped too many times in passing moves, negating his value. And even this powerhouse once had the ball wrestled from his clutches.

Jamba Ulengo: 4

You can’t be too harsh when so little opportunity is provided for his lanky legs to get into full stride in an attacking sense. Yet general callowness also apparent at left wing. Jury stays out.

Elton Jantjies: 3.5

Will have to make up much ground in a Lions jersey next year to prove he actually has what it takes at the superior level after numerous chances. Game management almost non-existent. Had a chip charged down, nearly causing problems at other end of the park, and other fancy dinks also bore little fruit. Some brave tackles.

Faf de Klerk: 3.5

Always a big heart … but is that enough in the unforgiving world of Test rugby? Just seems too frantic, gets bounced around like a rag doll at close quarters, and made some awful, ball-frittering kicks. Did gutsily field a high bomb or two, even if that’s hardly meant to be a core area for him. Expensive yellow-card for cynical knock-down.   

Warren Whiteley: 4.5

Really forgettable first half, but did stir more significantly after break when his industry improved markedly. Some alert defending, but unusually for him lost a lineout ball on Bok throw-in.

Uzair Cassiem: 6.5

Let’s not get too carried away … this was no genuinely “dream” debut. But considering the mass under-performance going on around him, the blindside flank’s first Test start was commendable. He grafted honestly in unglamorous areas, tackled and carried willingly, and was fitting scorer of the lone, industrial Bok try.  

Nizaam Carr: 3.5

Nope, it’s just not working for him on the open-side flank. Remains more of an impact-type No 8 off the “splinters”, perhaps.

Lood de Jager: 3.5

Looked listless, damagingly error-prone and sometimes tetchy, which set bad example to colleagues. Have said this before, but not a patch on the constantly energetic, bruising RWC 2015 figure.

Pieter-Steph du Toit: 5.5

Sometimes gets into defensive difficulty out of position … but maybe that’s only because he’s at least willing to leave his comfort zone to aid the cause out wide when they’re in perilous positions? Grafted spiritedly, won a maul turnover and was game’s top tackler, according to stats, in first period.  

Lourens Adriaanse: 5.5

There have been Bok tightheads with greater mongrel outside the set-piece, I’m sure, but at least his core right-shoulder trade was performed with some aplomb.

Adriaan Strauss: 4

On his swansong, both as Bok player and captain, you might have wished for a barn-stormer. It didn’t come. Efficient enough at staple duties, but couldn’t inspire his troops in any animated way.  

Tendai Mtawarira: 6

Extremely secure at scrum-time, and put himself about the park. Turned over once on drive, however.

Standout substitutes:                                      

Steven Kitshoff and Piet van Zyl: 5.5

Kitshoff continued to ensure Boks earned scrum ascendancy when he appeared in 59th minute, whilst the 15 minutes at scrumhalf for Van Zyl did seem to engineer better thrust from there.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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