South Africa scored a moral-boosting and heart-warming 49-3 win over Fiji in their World Cup encounter in Wellington on Saturday.
Against the dangerous Fijians, who were allowed carte blanche at the breakdown and got away with some dangerous play (including one clear spear tackle), the defending champions sent a clear message to the other teams: 'These Boks are more than just a kick-'n-chase team'.
Unleashing their backs to great effect, the Bok off-loading in the tackle was impressive and showed their ability to counter from deep. They played the Pacific Islanders at their own game and outscored them by six tries to none.
Jan de Koning rates the South African players!
15 Pat Lambie:
He stayed calm in the early exchanges, when things could have gone pear-shaped and showed some fine attacking skills. He also made his tackles when he needed to.
14 JP Pietersen:
There was a good rush on defence, which stopped a dangerous attack early on, and then a number of great runs from the left wing (yes, with No.14 on his back). He did concede a penalty for offside, but his counter from deep, breaking several tackles, to set up the Boks' first try showed he was back to his best. And, of course, there was another try-saving tackle.
13 Jaque Fourie:
He conceded a penalty for offside that gave Fiji their first points, but produced some really good running in midfield and was a key playmaker on the counter ... not to mention his defensive work.
12 Frans Steyn:
He started with an awesome penalty kick of close to 60 metres to open the scoring, then a few strong midfield bursts. There were the usual errors, but nothing major. Fine day at the office.
11 Odwa Ndungane:
He was isolated and conceded an early penalty, but settled down and produced an accomplished performance. Showed great strength to steal ball in tackle at crucial stage, when Fiji were looking dangerous.
10 Morné Steyn:
He missed one conversion and two penalties in what was one of his less impressive kicking displays. However, he epitomised everything that was good about the Bok backs - some really good open field play, attacking the advantage line and getting his backline going very well. A good day at the office was rounded off with a great break to set up Tendai Mtawarira's try.
9 Fourie du Preez:
Some snappy play behind the pack, but butchered a try with poor hands just a metre out. Still not back to his best, but he did produce one of his better performances of the year.
8 Pierre Spies:
There was a good run off the back of the scrum early on and several other good runs with ball in hand. He was really solid on defence, producing a high tackle count and some really good work at the breakdown, which is not meant to be his forte.
7 Schalk Burger:
Still turning his back on defenders, stopping the momentum of movements and also slipped off a few tackles. However, once he got into the game he was very strong with ball in hand and showed really good off-loading skills - including setting Morné Steyn up for his try. He also made a host of tackles, the second most in the Bok team.
6 Heinrich Brüssow:
It started with a clever early break at the ruck and then a penalty turnover soon afterwards. Some really strong defensive work, producing the Boks' highest tackle count. He did concede a penalty for releasing his bind at a scrum, but countered that with an insane little chip for Frans Steyn's try ... which would have made most backs proud.
5 Danie Rossouw:
He was exceptionally strong with the ball in hand - making close to 100 metres in his 12 runs - and some good work at the breakdown. He did slip off tackles too easily at times, but his ball-carrying was his best asset.
4 Bakkies Botha:
Produced some big hits and plenty of early tackles, not to mention all the cleaning up he did when the ball was - so often - lying around. He came off at half-time, probably still nursing the Achilles injury.
3 Jannie du Plessis:
Like most Boks he missed the occasional tackle, but strong work close in and a huge run up the midfield that resulted in Jaque Fourie's try and really good work in the scrums earmarked a good day at the office.
2 John Smit (captain):
He was working hard on defence and produced a great steal at a crucial stage early in game, when Fijians were throwing everything at Boks. He had one of his best games in the Bok No.2 jersey this year.
1 Gurthrö Steenkamp:
Produced a very powerful run - breaking a couple of tackles - for his try, after some good work at the breakdown. His strong scrumming showed he was regaining his best form.
16 Bismarck du Plessis (on for John Smit, 54th min):
Strong early run, but then lost control of the ball. But he recovered to make another big impact.
17 Tendai Mtawarira (on for Gurthrö Steenkamp, 64th min):
Good support play to be in position for his try and was powerful in the scrums.
18 François Louw (on for Willem Alberts, 47th min - blood) :
Bot enough time to be rated.
19 Willem Alberts (on for Bakkies Botha, 41st min):
He was very strong on defence from the outset and produced good work at the breakdown, including a fine steal. Also a couple of decent runs.
20 François Hougaard (on for Odwa Ndungane, 54th min):
Again showed his sublime skill and ability to break tackles and keep the ball alive. Pure magic.
21 Ruan Pienaar (on for Fourie du Preez, 71st min):
Not enough time to be rated.
22 Juan de Jongh (on for Jaque Fourie, 71st min):
Not enough time to be rated.
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