15. Liam Williams: 5.5
Full-blooded commitment as always, but against the Boks that was never going to be enough. Couldn’t offer a significant attacking threat and his misjudgement of the bounce for Le Roux’s try was very costly. Pleasing that he’s cut his hair, however.
14. Alex Cuthbert: 6.5
Sometimes he strikes me as a bit of a headless chicken, but he really is a superb physical specimen. Some dodgy handling let him down, but two glorious runs – one resulting in a magnificent individual score – showcased his power and pace.
13. Jonathan Davies: 6.5
It didn’t really go his way but he was one of the few Welsh players who seemed to have some guile, some inventiveness about what he was trying to do. Strong in contact as well.
12. Jamie Roberts: 4.5
He ran hard and straight and made his tackles, but it’s impossible to ignore the uncharacteristically brainless take-out in the air of Willie Le Roux. During his absence the Welsh defence was as watertight as a sieve and they shipped 14 points – effectively sealing the outcome of the game after just 20 minutes.
11. George North: 4
Invisible with the ball in hand, but worryingly wet in the tackle at times. A bloke his size should have creamed Hendricks into touch for his try, and he failed to challenge Le Roux with any great physicality when the full back went over.
10. Dan Biggar: 6.5
Played smoothly and displayed a good range of passes and kicks. Unfortunately those outside him weren’t able to make the most of what he could create, which – to be fair – wasn’t a huge amount, given the lack of stable platform provided by his pack. Should have set up Davies for a try though.
9. Mike Phillips: 5
Still living off 2009 form. His service was too laboured and the quality of his kicks was inconsistent, often too far ahead and giving Le Roux the chance to counter-attack – a terrible mistake, given his current form. Didn’t have an easy job behind a pack being marched backwards though.
1. Gethin Jenkins: 6.5
His scrum work was OK, but his workrate in the loose was better, forcing turnovers to help ease the pressure of the constant wave-after-wave of South African runners. Also kicked the ball, which –as a prop – earns him a mandatory extra half mark.
2. Ken Owens: 7
To my mind, Wales’ best player on Saturday. He was reliable in the set piece and weighed in with a lung-busting 10 tackles, as well as looking dynamic in the loose. I heard somebody criticise him for not keeping up with Le Roux for Hendricks’ try, but I think he showed an impressive turn of pace and it was North, rather than Owens, who was the guilty party.
3. Adam Jones: 4
Difficult to mark a guy who is only on for 30 minutes but it certainly wasn’t a happy 30 minutes for the big man. Under pressure in the scrum, he was another Welsh forward who looked off the pace and unable to deal with the Springbok’s intensity.
4. Alun Wyn Jones: 7
Impressive display despite defeat from the skipper. Got through a mountain of work in defence and his work during the final stages when South Africa were pressing for another score was excellent. Couldn’t raise the energy levels though and failed to make an impact with ball in hand.
5. Luke Charteris: 5.5
Not a poor display, but a quiet one certainly. He was – as usual – a primary target in the lineout, where he was a reliable source of ball, but he was invisible elsewhere and seemed to struggle with the muscularity of his opposition second rows…which isn’t surprising, in all honesty.
6. Dan Lydiate: 5.5
16 tackles made is an impressive statistic, but what that doesn’t tell you is the fact that Lydiate all too often lost the contact, despite bringing the man down. He looked tired and sluggish in comparison to the explosive second row partnership he was facing.
7. Aaron Shingler: 5
It’s not his fault as he’s not really an openside, but he was blown out of the water in the breakdown battle with Francois Louw. Worked his socks off and showed admirable commitment but he was left for dead by Le Roux in the first half.
8. Toby Faletau: 5
Played an almost identical game to Lydiate, where he plenty of tackles but dominated very few of them, allowing the Boks to build momentum. But as a number 8 he is also there to make yards himself, and 15 metres from 14 carries is simply not good enough for an international of his quality.
If there is a source of optimism for the visitors, it is the impact that the bench had. In particular, Gareth Davies looked electric when he came on with one break deserving a try, and James Hook showed plenty of inventiveness as well to remind everyone of his qualities.
Matthew Morgan also gave a buzzing, promising showing, whilst Josh Turnbull put in a monumental shift in defence in the closing stages. The rest were all solid, but quiet – but a moment to acknowledge Matthew Rees, who has been an inspiration in forcing his way back onto the Test rugby field after battling through cancer.
By Mike Cooper (@RuckedOver)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images