South Africa finally opened their account on the year-end tour of Europe and Ireland win an emphatic 32-10 win over a game Italian outfit at Stadio Friuli, Udine, on Saturday.
Outscoring the Italians by four tries to one, the Springboks showed they are far from the spent force some critics had made them out to be.
Jan de Koning rates the Springbok players:
15 Zane Kirchner:
His chip-’n-chase went too deep, then lost the ball in tackle and failed to find touch. He settled down eventually.
14 JP Pietersen:
Had a rather quiet game – another of the 2009 heroes who is having had a below par tour.
13 Jaque Fourie:
One of his best games of the year. Good support running and a great try, solid on defence. He was the general in a misfiring backline.
12 Adi Jacobs:
He looked full of running early on, but his defence remains an issue – as he gets pulled out of position too easy. There was also some poor passing.
11 Bryan Habana:
Good chasing, as usual, and strong running. Also a great inside pass for Jaque Fourie’s try, along with great support running for Fourie du Preez’s try. His workrate is simply incredible.
10 Morné Steyn:
Hesitant throughout the game, with his kicking game not what we have come to expect of him. He is still well off his game.
9 Fourie du Preez:
He was one of the standout players in a very ordinary backline performance. There was a free kick for not putting the ball straight in at the scrum, but I have seen worse being allowed to go. Great break and offload for Olivier’s try, while he scored a fine effort himself.
8 Ryan Kankowski:
Good break for Habana’s try, but that was his only big contribution in what was another ordinary performance. Lost the ball at the back of scrum, gave away a penalty and stood up far too early in the scrums. Replaced early in second half.
7 Danie Rossouw:
Lost the ball in a tackle and also not working hard enough in the scrums. There was a great run and offload to start the counter that resulted in Fourie du Preez’s try.
6 Heinrich Brüssow:
The find of the year for South Africa. Worked very hard at the breakdown – produced several crucial steals – such as the one in the second quarter that saved a try.
5 Andries Bekker:
There was an early turnover lost in tackle, but then settled down with some good line-out takes and a great line-out steal.
4 Bakkies Botha:
Far better from him and his physical presence at the breakdown was crucial.
3 John Smit (captain):
Was under pressure in scrums when at tighthead, but continued to work hard at the breakdowns. He looked far more comfortable at hooker and the Bok front row looked more solid.
2 Adriaan Strauss:
His high workrate is an asset and some strong work at the breakdown, with great counter rucking.
1 Wian du Preez:
One poor scrum that resulted in Italian penalty, but settled down for a sound debut. Some good carries.
16 Tendai Mtawarira (on for Du Preez, 60th min):
Stood very strong against Castrogiovanni and although he gave away a penalty, he looked more like the Best we saw against the B&I Lions.
17 BJ Botha (on for Strauss, 60th min):
Gave Bok scrums a far more solid look – with the Bok scrum suddenly able to walk with Italian scrum and win a penalty – after being shoved back earlier. He was also involved on defence and showed he is the answer to the Bok tighthead problems.
18 Victor Matfield (on for Botha, 50th min):
Showed his experience and had a good line-out steal, while getting stuck in at the breakdown.
19 Jean Deysel (on for Kankowski 50th min):
Very good clean-out and turnovers, with a strong presence at the breakdown. Also won a penalty at the breakdown.
20 François Hougaard (on for Du Preez, 77th min):
Not enough time to be rated.
21 Ruan Pienaar (on for Steyn, 67th min):
Sound performance, despite a kick that didn’t find touch. Just not enough time to be rated.
22 Wynand Olivier (on for Jacobs, 65th min):
Great support line for his try, but not enough time to be rated.