South Africa never looked like losing this Test, so says Mike Bersiks, our guest writer as he embarks on an analysis of the Scotland test match. This, despite the fact that the Scots should have taken a few more kicks at goal to build pressure. Another frustrating Springbok performance. Just when you thought the wheels were coming off for Scotland with Adriaan Strauss’s intercept try, the tide turned and it was all the Jocks from then on. Still very little to enthuse about as regards the Bok backline play, with only a forward effort and some superb defence driving them to victory.
15. Zane Kirchner – He did good work on defence, snuffing out a few kicks ahead when Scotland were on the attack. I have my doubts on Taute as a fullback as I think he’s seriously dodgy under the high ball, but he’s worth a look as Kirchner gives you nothing on attack.
14. JP Pietersen – Hardly touched the ball in attack but made some massive hits in defence. If Pietersen is forced to sit out the England game with injury we’ll miss him badly. Mvovo, who is the next man in line, is a liability in defence and that’s all the Bok outside backs seem to do at the moment.
13. Juan de Jongh – Hard to rate him on this performance. Didn’t see much ball but made one turnover and tackled well. Give him another chance against England.
12. Jean de Villiers – Best tackle stats in the Bok backline (12 made, none missed) and a couple of the crashballing runs that he made against Ireland. What has happened to his offloading skills, that he used to showcase when in partnership with Jaque Fourie?
11. Francois Hougaard – Another Bok outside back that was merely an onlooker in attack. Made his tackles effectively and won two turnovers.
10. Pat Lambie – He had a lot more ball to use than against Ireland and kicked far too much of it away, often poorly. If kicking is not your natural game then back yourself to run or pass to another backline player – that’s what got you into the team in the first place. I don’t mind if the Boks punt for territory when in their own half, but Lambie had me cursing when he kicked away one glorious turnover ball in the Scots half on Saturday.
9. Ruan Pienaar – Not his best game despite one line-break. Sluggish service and also kicked too much, including one box-kick out on the full.
8. Duane Vermeulen – Great workrate in the loose and on defence but has still shown little in the way of a ball carrying threat. Would the Bok loose-forward balance be improved with a quicker, number eight linking play with the backs? In the absence of Kankowski and Ashley Johnson no-one suitable comes to mind.
7. Willem Alberts – Another very good game for the big fella with the Scottish defence giving him a chance to stretch his legs with a couple of good carries. Made 40 metres with the ball in hand.
6. Francois Louw – Along with most of the forward pack he continues to impress. He got the official man of the match award for his huge influence at ruck time and on defence, making the most tackles of any Bok on the day (16/0).
5. Juandre Kruger – Was more involved at line-out time than against Ireland, calling four throws onto himself. Has to get credit as part of a good forward effort although he’s still very much Matfield-lite.
4. Eben Etzebeth – Nothing to blot his copybook. Ran straight over a couple of Scots in one memorable run, was once again a reliable source of ball at the front of the line-out and gave away nothing in defence.
3. Jannie du Plessis – The Bok scrum was solid until he came off. I’m afraid he’s going to have to lift himself for one last effort this season against England.
2. Adriaan Strauss – When was the last time a Bok hooker has scored two tries in a game? As with all the starting forwards he had a good game all-round. The first try was a pack-effort and the second some good anticipation from the Free-State skipper.
1. Gurthro Steenkamp – Nothing wrong on his comeback to the green and gold with a typically strong performance. Even when Beast is back from his current medical problems I think that Steenkamp needs to be kept in the Bok setup.
16. Schalk Brits – Only got a few minutes at the end.
17. Heinke van der Merwe – Another reasonable match to keep him in Bok coach Heynecke Meyer’s thoughts ahead of the 2013 season.
18. CJ van der Linde – The Bok scrumming went to hell when CJ came on for Jannie du Plessis. He got broken by his opponent, giving away two penalties which kept the Boks pinned back in their own 22. CJ did a decent job at loosehead the week before, but Scotland scrum a lot better than Ireland, and this performance showed that deploying him at tighthead is no longer an option. Why did the Bok management not back the younger man in Pat Cilliers?
19. Flip van der Merwe – I’ve liked Van der Merwe’s contribution this season, but he went back to the bad old days on Saturday. He was the culprit after the ref had said that the next offence in the danger zone was going to earn a yellow card.
20. Marcell Coetzee – His high-workrate and commitment in the tackle was noticeable as he had another stint off the bench when the game had turned against the Boks and all he had to do was defend.
21. Morne Steyn – Also on for a very short time, but made a trysaving tackle on David Denton when Scotland were hammering away in the last ten minutes.