Bok ratings: Kolbe's wowing the world!

Cheslin Kolbe (AFP)
Cheslin Kolbe (AFP)

Cape Town – These salaams for Cheslin Kolbe ... they're becoming addictive, aren't they?

"He's walking on water," said Gcobani Bobo in the SuperSport studio. "Absolutely magical," was the Nick Mallett take. "Phenomenal rugby (from him)," added Schalk Burger.

The eternally livewire, wholehearted right wing moved beyond mere excellence - already such a consistent hallmark in his case this year - to more superlative terrain as South Africa trampled Italy 49-3 in Pool B to all but book their quarter-final passage at the World Cup on Friday.

With the little dynamo always to the fore, the Springboks were far too strong for a notably limited, sometimes cynical Azzurri, even as a genuinely "complete" performance again eluded Rassie Erasmus' charges.

Had they avoided some instances of over-eagerness in their finishing, silly basic errors and poor option-taking, the score would have blown out even further in their favour.

Still, an already menacing Bok scrum was hamstrung by the controversial need for uncontested set-pieces from the first quarter onward, Italy surrendering both their tightheads (first-choice and bench) to supposed injury.

It did not prevent SA from confirming clearly that they have a tremendous stock of forwards generally - both starters and impact men - while certain backline personnel began to hit their straps nicely, too.

Here's how I rated the Boks:

Willie le Roux: 6

It was difficult to judge this ongoing enigma at No 15: there was plenty of evidence that he is still gaffe-prone and not at his peak. But then there was the good stuff: some deft skip passes or dinks for a try or two, the odd decently contestable tactical kick, and moments of pleasing own aerial safety.

Cheslin Kolbe: 9

Just had everyone gasping in wonder every time he was on or near the ball ... which was amazingly often. He has a gift for just making things happen, and not ceasing in that constant goal. Scored two fine tries himself, including the first as a trademark wriggle-out from tight space, was always plucky in the tackle (made 11 of them) or in high-ball contests (once memorably outmuscling Sergio Parisse!) and his stamina in the taxing conditions was exemplary as well.

Lukhanyo Am: 7

Building a head of steam at RWC. Won an early turnover to set a strong personal tone, and later showed brilliant awareness for a ball-poach at close quarters that saw him romp away for a try. Lost one aerial battle.

Damian de Allende: 7.5

Extremely durable, constructive showing. Apart from one loss of possession in contact, the inside centre oozed vitality. Strong yardage and off-loading skills, and was good at slowing down Italian ball at breakdowns.

Makazole Mapimpi: 7

One of his better all-round Tests ... certainly one where his oft-questioned defensive side of things didn't let him down at all. Made some firm, vital tackles. His high-speed-from-the-blocks try meant he kept up his 100 percent strike rate for Boks, too.

Handre Pollard: 5.5

Feeling persists that Pollard’s best rugby hasn't quite reached this tournament - not yet, anyway. Inconsistent in execution, options. Spilled a ball dangerously once when he tried a counter from deep, plus his place-kicking went a little awry after sound start. Some polished touches, though.

Faf de Klerk: 5.5

Typically beavering showing, but not necessarily one which will have won over all doubters about his game-management. One or two inaccurate passes; box kicking hot and cold.

Duane Vermeulen: 7

Just reminded all over again that he's an iron-man of the Bok pack. Got about the park commendably in the heat for a big unit, and carried, pilfered and tackled with urgency and venom. Took that horrible, two-man dump-tackle on his head/neck remarkably well!

Pieter-Steph du Toit: 7

Plenty of energy, as we traditionally expect of the big blind-sider, who looked as though he enjoyed his evening. Was alert to snipes, and made some fine kick chases amidst his donkeywork in tighter areas. Lost one ball on the drive, and just failed to release properly a last pass that would have led to a try.

Siya Kolisi: 6

Got a long shift, which was a plus. Still not quite on his A-game: was penalised once on the deck, and for midfield obstruction which thwarted a Bok try. Helped with some drive-back gang tackles, however, and made a rib-rattling one on an Italian outside back at an advanced stage.

Lood de Jager: 8

He was excellent at RWC 2015 and is beginning to carry on where he left off, four years on. Constantly high work-rate by the lanky second-rower, forceful leg drive, and command of the lineouts.

Eben Etzebeth: 6.5

Robust enough showing from the bruiser - and looked so irritated that scrum battle quickly turned into a fiasco. But is he being at least slightly troubled mentally by much-publicised "Langebaan" events back home?

Frans Malherbe: 6.5

Would have been more mortified than most about the "flop-down" scrums, as he had started with considerable aplomb in that area. Lifted his game in general play, into bargain.

Bongi Mbonambi: 8

Totally justified the fact that he seems to have jumped to first choice for the moment at hooker. Livewire, restless display. Apparently made 15 tackles, while his controlling mastery of rolling mauls only mushrooms. Pinged once for not rolling away.

Tendai Mtawarira: 7

Was working that left shoulder vigorously in the scrums before they became almost meaningless, and certainly aided the key, early Bok pack traction in driving play.

Standout substitute:

Steven Kitshoff, RG Snyman and Malcolm Marx: 7

Coach Erasmus went forward-heavy with his substitutes (6-2 split) and I thought all of this trio contributed especially royally for impact purposes.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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