Smith stands tallest
15 Nov 2008
Juan Smith returned to his best form against Scotland. Keo.co.za rates the Springboks after the Murrayfield Test.
15 Conrad Jantjes (4) – His anticipation and positional play was good, but other than that he was ordinary. He failed to make any telling impact on attack and his tactical kicking was sub standard.
14 JP Pietersen (6) – Was fed with a plethora of opportunities to counter-attack thanks to some poor tactical kicking from Scotland, but failed to capitalise on any of of those. Despite this he turned in a very good performance – his positional play, tactical kicking, defence and work-rate impressive.
13 Adi Jacobs (6) – One cannot fault him in any facet of play, but he was hardly outstanding. Contributed in the build up to some of the Springboks’ better moves, but a lack of service from structured play meant Jacobs’ threat was largely nullified.
12 Jean de Villiers (6) – His best moment on attack came when he broke the line and shot down the touchline. He should have dished it off to Juan Smith on his inside, and the opportunity was lost. And while he looked dangerous when South Africa turned over possession, he had very few opportunities to play from structured attack.
11 Bryan Habana (4) – The IRB Player of the Year is a shadow of the man he was in 2007. Service was limited, in fairness, but when he did get his hands on the pill he looked indecisive and lethargic. Was substituted for the second Test in a row and that tells the whole story.
10 Ruan Pienaar (5) – South Africa’s direct approach and Scotland’s breakdown contest meant he saw significantly less ball than he did at the Millennium Stadium last week, but when he did, he often chose to attack the defensive line with limited effect. His tactical kicking was nowhere near the standard he set for himself in Cardiff and he’ll need to rectify this facet of play before Twickenham.
9 Ricky Januarie (5) – Did what was expected but nothing more. The Springboks needed a No 9 with a boot to assist in controlling the match and in Januarie they didn’t have that. This heaped more pressure on Pienaar and the South African rugby fraternity will be hoping Fourie du Preez recovers for the England Test.
8 Pierre Spies (5) – His performance was a hybrid of the good and disappointing. Spies’ thrived when the game opened up in the final quarter but it’s his anonymity when the game is tight that is worrying.
7 Juan Smith (8) – Looked exhausted against Wales last week but showed his value, particularly in the ball carrying stakes, this week. He was the outstanding forward of the Test, crossing the advantage line more times than not and driving Scots back in the tackle. He’ll be a key figure against England next weekend.
6 Schalk Burger (6) – Carried powerfully and tackled like a man possessed. But he looks tired and in need of rest and hopefully the coaching staff will manage him well in the week ahead.
5 Victor Matfield (6) – His mere presence troubled Scotland at the lineouts, even though he actually only stole a solitary ball. However, Matfield’s athleticism and skill in the loose was sadly missing, due mostly to the failure of the referee to allow the Springboks to build through the phases. Defensively he scrambled desperately at times to thwart the Scots.
4 Bakkies Botha (5) – Typically physical and a few Scots will know they’ve been in a Test with Botha on Sunday. However, he clearly lacks sharpness and match fitness and therefore failed to make the impact required of him for a sustained period.
3 John Smit (6) – Bismarck du Plessis’ injury forced him to shift to hooker and that wouldn’t have been ideal. But the skipper adapted, scrumming powerfully and carrying the ball well. His leadership ability and patience was tested by a pedantic referee, but he handled that situation well and instilled a sense of calm when the Springboks were under the cosh in the closing stages of the Test.
2 Bismarck du Plessis – Replaced in the fifth minute with what looked to be a hamstring injury.
1 Beast Mtawarira (7) – Held is own in at scrum time and was prominent as always in the loose. His work rate on defence and attack is outstanding.
16 Brian Mujati (5) – Struggled at scrum time initially but settled as the Test progressed. Prominent on defence, particularly around the ruck fringe, but the Springboks need more from him in terms of ball carries.
17 Gurthro Steenkamp – Not on long enough to make a fair assessment.
18 Andries Bekker (5) – Got around the field well in defence but had limited opportunities on attack in the 20 minutes he was on. Played tighter, allowing Matfield to play looser, and was surprisingly effective in the role.
19 Ryan Kankowski – Not on long enough to make a fair assessment.
20 Danie Rossouw – Not on long enough to make a fair assessment.
21 Frans Steyn (6) – His biggest contribution came on defence, where he made a number of tackles in his 15 minutes on the field, the most important of those tackles were made on Scott Gray, who was clear through on goal. He also made a vital turnover on his 5m line with the Springboks 14-10 ahead with three minutes to play.
22 Jaque Fourie (6) – Scored the game’s decisive try with his first touch of the ball – a acrobatic lunge over the tryline. Continued to tackle relentlessly when the pressure was on and provided the Springboks with some valuable experience in that time.
By Ryan Vrede