Boks stand tall

The Springboks produced an outstanding defensive effort, with all 22 contributing in this regard to ensure victory over England. Keo.co.za rates the players.

15 Conrad Jantjes (6) – Limited opportunities to attack, but looked threatening with ball in hand. Good positional play and his up and unders had the England back three sweating all afternoon.

14 JP Pietersen (8) – His reading of the play on defence was excellent, often resulting in him making important stop tackles on the ball carriers who had numbers on the outside. Also scrambled to make a hit on Ugo Monye that saved a try at a crucial period in the Test. Few opportunities to run at the defence, but made his presence felt on a set play in the second half, where he ran a great line and dished off to Adi Jacobs for the Boks’ third try.

13 Adi Jacobs (7) – Jacobs capped a fine year with another flawless, if not spectacular, display, particularly on defence, where he punched above his weight a number of times. Cut through the defensive line to score the nail-in-the-coffin try (his 6th in 11 Tests in 2008).

12 Jean de Villiers (7) – Made a try-saving hit on Paul Sackey in the second half and it was indeed his defensive performance that was the best facet of his play today.

11 Bryan Habana (7) – A good performance to end the season. And while he scored a late try to break a much publicised drought, it was his work-rate on defence that was the outstanding feature of his game. His overall demeanour was much more positive than it has been at any stage on tour and hopefully he’ll carry this confidence into 2009.

10 Ruan Pienaar (7) – Made the half break that set up Danie Rossouw’s try and charged down Danny Cipriani’s kick and collected the loose ball to score one of his own. Very good overall – distributed well and his tactical kicking was accurate for the most part. Outshone the much vaunted England flyhalf Danny Cipriani. Oh, and he never missed a kick, sinking six from six.

9 Ricky Januarie (8) – Very, very good. Defended with his usual mongrel, but to limit the positives to just that would be grossly unfair on Januarie. Was allowed to clear rucks quickly for most of the match thanks in large part to efficient ruck cleaning. More importantly, kicked well, taking pressure off Ruan Pienaar in this regard.

8 Pierre Spies (7) – His best match on tour. Carried the ball powerfully and tacked relentlessly.

7 Danie Rossouw (7) – Powered through three defenders for the Springboks’ first try and proved to be a safe lineout option, and stole two England feeds. Defensively sound, dominating the collisions and a force with ball in hand.

6 Schalk Burger (8) – The English must have thought there were 15 Schalk Burgers on the pitch. The Boks would have hoped for more from Burger with ball in hand, but he was omnipresent in defence, tackling anything in a white shirt that dared move. Outstanding.

5 Victor Matfield (7) – Stood up in a massive way. Like his team-mates, Matfield’s work-rate on defence was unbelievable, while his presence at the lineouts meant the Boks had a safe target to aim at, and the English were always wary of his poaching ability.

4 Bakkies Botha (8) – A giant in a Test that suited his in-your-face style. Botha’s tackling and ruck cleaning ensured some England players won’t get out of bed easily on Sunday morning. His most telling contribution, however, came when he chased down England winger Ugo Monya and halted his momentum, saving what would have been a certain try. Awesome.

3 Jannie du Plessis (6) – Scrummed well considering he had minimal time to prepare and was solid in all other facets of play.

2 John Smit (c) (8) – He lead by example in everything he did and in doing so set the standard for his team to follow.

1 Beast Mtawarira (8) – ‘The Beast’ was at his irrepressible best – powerful scrummaging and some telling ball carries. But his defensive display and the work-rate that drove that was breathtaking. Probably put in a gazillion tackles, and sustained that effort for 80 minutes.

Subs:

16 Chiliboy Ralepelle (6) – Came on for 10 minutes in the first half to cover for the sin-binned Beast Mtawarira and acquitted himself well. Only given six minutes at the end of the match.

17 Brian Mujati (7) – Made a massive impact with ball in hand when he came off the wood, battering tired England defenders and regularly crossing the advantage line. Shored up the scrum as well. Was everything the Boks needed in an impact player.

18 Andries Bekker (7) – Was up with the pace and intensity of the match immediately and made a massive contribution on defence, while his pace and athleticism was a bonus on attack.

19 Ryan Kankowski (6) – His involvement was limited to making a number of tackles, and he did that well.

20 Heinrich Brussow – Not on long enough to make a fair assessment.

21 Frans Steyn (7) – Added a physicality on attack and defence when brought on at flyhalf, and troubled the English in his time on the pitch. Showed composure and maturity that’s been lacking in previous opportunities at pivot.

22 Jaque Fourie (7) – The Boks benefited immensely from his experience and he took charge of affairs when introduced – particularly on defence. Showed his hunger for victory late in the game when he chased a clearance, collected the ball, negotiated a tackler and dragged himself up to score.