Steyn’s star shines brighter

Francois Steyn again stood tallest among the Boks.

This was an improved Bok performance, but it has to be measured against how poor a side England are. Ireland are a better team, with more skilled footballers. The Boks on Saturday were made to look better in defence because they were up against attackers with the potency of donkeys.

The positives were Francois Steyn and Butch James. The negatives were lack of discipline and a fear of failure as the Boks tried to defend a lead instead of attacking a desperate England team bereft of all confidence.

Keo.co.za’s ratings

Steyn
7/10 – He is willing to take on the world and that’s the refreshing attitude the Boks have lacked at the back for some time. He makes mistakes because he tries to do bloody things. He runs it back, wants to kick for goal from 50 metres and wants to get involved in the game. Look after this kid and we’ll have a special player.

Ndungane
6/10 – Took his try well and would have had another if Jean de Villiers had looked up and not been as selfish. Dropped one high ball but otherwise did well.

Olivier
6/10 – Had one memorable run and defended well, but did not play a dominant part in the test.

De Villiers
3/10 – Went for individual glory at the expense of his teammates. A player of his vision has no excuse not to have looked inside. He is the creator in this team, but on Saturday he pressed the self-destruction button. There was no excuse for that kind of performance. His sin-binning was stupid and his action in slapping the ball out of the attacker’s hand was childish. If he is feeling crap tonight then he very well should be. He cost the Boks victory.

Habana
4/10 – One intercept that saved a possible England score, although you would have backed England to cock up a four on one situation as they made an art of it all day. He still shoots in off his wing and his work rate off the ball is limited. A poor day in what has been a poor season.

James
7/10 – A composured, mature and decisive 60 minutes from James, probably the best he has played at this level ever. The management says his knees gave in on the hour. If it is so then it is a shame. If it was a tactical substitution then the coaches should be put up against the wall and Butch should be pulling the trigger. Scored the one try and made the other. He gave the Bok defence solidity and menace.

Januarie
5/10 – Was busy but extra weight has meant his pace is not what it should be. He did little wrong, but he was not influential in the game and he did not hassle England, which is his primary strength when he is on top of his game.

Cronje
4/10 – He, like some of his teammates, has never shown the Loftus form in the northern hemisphere. Another disappointment.

Spies
5/10 – Made 12 tackles, according to the official statistics, but has been done a disservice in the backrow combinations picked on tour. Individually a fine prospect, but pick him with backrowers who complement his game.

Rossouw
6/10 – Gave it horns, but another to suffer because of a loose-trio combination too similar in make-up.

Muller
5/10 – Every week it gets written – solid but nothing more.

Ackermann
6/10 – Courageous, committed and all those wonderful things. But he is no Matfield and he is no Bakkies Botha.

Muller
5/10 – Did his job, but it seemed no more.

Smit
4/10 – One magnificent turnover, which was try-saving, but as captain the responsibility is his to ensure there are explosions and not implosions.

Van der Linde
4/10 – Penalised early on for scrumming in. Like his front row partners he never went back, but he also never made England go back.

Subs
Lobberts
4/10 – A difficult introduction to test footie. Like the others who play in that six, seven and eight axis, he looked lost because of one dimensional combinations.

Pretorius
3/10 – Another northern hemisphere disaster.