Player ratings: Clean sweep

Sat, 24 Nov 2012 13:43
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Vermeulen and Etzebeth the standouts at Twickenham

The Springboks claimed a tense 16-15 win over England at Twickenham on Saturday to achieve their first Northern Hemisphere clean sweep since 2008.

It wasn’t pretty but it was never expected to be a spectacle with wet conditions contributing to a scrappy contest.

Willem Alberts' fortuitous try proved decisive, but it was a victory based on South Africa’s superior physicality.  

The Boks won the battle of the gainline and in turn, extended their unbeaten run against England to 11. It was a gruelling year; the Boks’ longest ever season, and it ended on a positive note with three from three in Europe.

Quintin van Jaarsveld rates the Springbok players.

15 Zane Kirchner
Say what you want about his lack of attacking skills, but Kirchner proved his worth under the high ball. He was rock solid in the air and made just the one error in the form of a little knock-on.  

14 JP Pietersen

In contrast to Kirchner, Pietersen spilled two up-and-unders. However, his workrate was top notch, his kicking surprisingly good and he was strong with ball in hand.  

13 Juan de Jongh

Reduced to a defender for the second successive week. Where he had one chance to run with the ball last weekend, he didn’t get a single opportunity at Twickenham - a startling stat for an outside centre.   

12 Jean de Villiers

Made two crucial scrambling tackles, the first on Alex Goode and the second on a barnstorming Manu Tuilagi, and made some hard yards.   

11 Francois Hougaard

A noticeably frustrated Hougaard made the most of every opportunity to have a run - he beat the first defender on almost every occasion.  Slipped up again on defence but not a bad way to end his wing experiment.

10 Pat Lambie

The conditions put paid to his attacking intent and it took 40 minutes for him to find his feet. There were a couple of acute tactical kicks that gave the Boks good field position but he didn’t show that he can control a Test with the boot.  If nothing else, he proved himself as a world-class defender in the flyhalf channel.

9 Ruan Pienaar

Looked dangerous on the rare occasion he darted around the fringe of the ruck but his kicking was inconsistent.    

8 Duane Vermeulen

Excellent at the breakdown, both in terms of clearing and winning turnovers, the Boks’ most prominent ball-carrier and exceptional on defence (15 tackles).   

7 Willem Alberts

Displayed great offensive defence as he smashed back ball-carriers consistently, effectively turning defence into an attacking weapon. Won a line-out against the throw and was on hand to score a freakish try.  

6 Francois Louw

Not as successful on the ground as he was against Scotland last weekend but had a strong Test on both attack and defence, making 16 hits in another industrious outing.

5 Juandré Kruger

An unsung hero at Twickenham with four takes and 16 tackles. Both Bok locks were immense, dominating the line-out and putting their bodies on the line on defence.  

4 Eben Etzebeth

Like Alberts, Etzebeth’s aggressive defence was key in the Boks’ winning the battle of inches in the tight loose. Not to be outdone by his lock partner, he also made 16 hits, won four on the Boks’ throw and snatched one against the throw. He had an outstanding Test.  

3 Jannie du Plessis

Harshly penalised at scrum time as aerial footage clearly showed Alex Corbisiero coming in on the angle.  Instead, the warhorse was judged on his work in general play where whilst committed, he slipped a couple of tackles.

2 Adriaan Strauss

Whilst his line-out throwing was out of the top drawer, he had a rather quiet game by his lofty standards. Considering he’s one of the Boks’ most consistent ball-carriers he made a surprisingly low amount of attacking surges.  

1 Gurthrö Steenkamp

A standout on defence. He led the front row charge in this regard with several high impact hits and was solid in the set-piece.


16 Schalk Brits
(on for Strauss, 74th minute)
Not enough time to be rated.

17 Heinke van der Merwe (on for Steenkamp, 62nd minute)
Not enough time to be rated.

18 Pat Cilliers (on for Du Plessis, 40th minute)
High workrate and another victim of Nigel Owens’ questionable officiating of the scrums.

19 Flip van der Merwe
(on for Etzebeth, 69th minute)
Not enough time to be rated.

20 Marcell Coetzee (on for Alberts, 56th minute)
Making 10 tackles in a shade over 20 minutes tells the story of this youngster’s unquenchable appetite for Test rugby and unrivalled work ethic.

21 Elton Jantjies

Not used.

22 Jaco Taute
Not used.

23 Lwazi Mvovo
Not used.