South Africa

Springbok player ratings in 41-13 win against Wales at Twickenham

The Springboks beat Wales 41-13 in their season-opening Test at Twickenham in London on Saturday afternoon.

The Boks registered five tries to the one by Wales to get their year off to a flying start.

Here’s how I rated the performance of the Bok players, out of 10.


Aphelele Fassi 8: The lanky fullback returned to the team after a long absence and looked as if he’d never been away. Superb under the high ball and always ready to run the ball back, Fassi’s only blemish was getting a yellow card for a high foot in taking an up-and-under.

Edwill van der Merwe 9: The Lions man was all-action and keen to show he belongs at this level. He pulled off an unbelievable double tackle to prevent what looked like a certain Wales try and scored a screamer of his own in the second half. Didn’t put a foot wrong, his defence being especially good.

Jesse Kriel 8: One of the big stars of the World Cup continued where he left off, scoring a great try early on and playing a role in several of the other moves by the Bok backline. He ran the defence well and looked to be in complete control of his performance.

Jesse Kriel
Jesse Kriel scored the Boks’ opening try against Wales. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

Andre Esterhuizen 5: It was an unusually quiet outing for the big man who plays his rugby in England. He did his bit in defence, but had very few opportunities in attack. The ball and game just didn’t go his way.

Makazole Mapimpi 7: The experienced winger was as solid as ever in the international arena. He was full of running out wide, tried to get stuck in where he could, and scored a wonderful try to set the Boks on their way in the second half.

Jordan Hendrikse 6: The Lions man enjoyed a wonky start by missing an early penalty but he found his range and kicked well for the remainder of his time on the field. Got stuck in at the rucks, made some big tackles and wasn’t afraid to have a go at the defensive line of Wales.

Faf de Klerk 6: Another solid outing by the experienced No 9, but he did little to trouble the Wales players. His service was decent enough, and he made some good tackles, but he’s going to be pushed for the No 9 jersey this season.

Springbok rugby team
The Boks won the Qatar Airways Cup at Twickenham on Saturday. Picture: Paul Harding/Gallo Images


Evan Roos 8: A good, strong outing by the eighthman, who ran hard and fast at the opposition. He nearly scored what would have been a wonderful try after a good running line and break. Strong in the carry and in the loose, he’ll be a happy man after that performance.

Pieter-Steph du Toit 7: The captain on the day enjoyed a solid game, making numerous tackles, as he does, and he also led the team well, making good decision and being constantly in contact with the referee. Carried the ball well at times.

Kwagga Smith 7: A real mixed bag from the little flanker; he gave away a few penalties, made some silly decisions, but he was also a menace at the breakdowns and made his presence felt throughout the match. He ran well with the ball and produced some good offloads.

Franco Mostert 6: The work horse of the Bok team was involved in plenty of the action, but like Smith, it was a bit of everything. He gave away some soft penalties, made a few errors, but also pulled off some key tackles and was decent in the lineouts.

Eben Etzebeth 5: Like Esterhuizen this was a match where the towering lock almost got lost in. For whatever reason he had little impact. He hardly carried, made the odd tackle and did what he had to in the lineouts.

Vincent Koch 8: The man who earned his 50th cap on the day was as powerful as ever at scrum time, though the referee didn’t always see it that way. The Bok scrum was dominant and that had a lot to do with Koch.

Malcolm Marx 5: The hooker returned to the team after a long injury absence and looked rusty. He missed his lineout target on two occasions and didn’t have the big breakdown impact as he usually does. He did make a few tackles and ruck clearouts.

Ox Nche 8: Another big shift from the Ox. He played his part in a dominant Bok scrum and also carried well on occasion. Got around the park and pulled off some great tackles, a real presence at ruck time.

Ox Nche
Ox Nche delivered a scrum masterclass. Picture: Paul Harding/Gallo Images

Bench players

Bongi Mbonambi 7: He came on early in the second half and played his part in the Bok scrum’s continued dominance. His lineout throwing was decent and he also scored a try, from the back of a driving maul.

Ntuthuko Mchunu 7: The Sharks man came on late in the game and did his bit in the scrums, while he also got stuck in at the rucks and mauls and helped the Boks see off the Welsh.

Frans Malherbe 7: He came on for Koch and at the first scrum showed why he is so highly rated by winning a penalty for his team.

Salmaan Moerat 7: The Stormers man didn’t get much chance to make an impact, but he did what he had to and contributed to his team’s commanding showing late in the contest. Hit a few rucks, took his lineout ball and made a few tackles.

Ben-Jason Dixon 7: The Stormers man also didn’t get much opportunity to make a memorable contribution, but he made some key tackles to halt the Welsh and got stuck in at ruck and maul time. He’ll hope for more time on the field against Portugal.

Grant Williams 8: The nippy scrumhalf continues to impress at international level. His service was again good, but it was his sniping runs that again caught the eye. He injects pace into the game like no one else in the Bok squad.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu 8: He slotted a long-range penalty first-up once on the field late in the contest and looked calm and composed as first-receiver. His attacking runs caused a few problems for Wales; he’ll be satisfied with his first Test match.

Damian de Allende 8: The experienced midfielder made a big impact late on with a key turn-over steal while he also kicked well and ran hard with ball in hand, putting Wales under pressure. He was a genuine calming influence in a game that was touch ‘n go until late on.