South Africa v Wales first test: Welsh player ratings

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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.

Replacements: 7
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

11 thoughts on “South Africa v Wales first test: Welsh player ratings

  1. Cuthbert’s defence is appalling, as is his positioning. He cost Wales two tries. Don’t focus on straight line running with one step, focus on how the opposition once again score lots of tries on his wing.

    Liam Williams and Aaron Shingler are out of their depth.

    Mike Phillips deserves a 2.

    Adam Jones wasn’t under pressure in the scrum, Jenkins was. It was his inability to get to any breakdowns or hit any rucks that had him removed.

  2. Strange on for Wales at the moment. I can’t decide if some of these players are over the hill, or out of form/tired.

    Roberts, Jenkins, Phillips and Jones stand out as players that look nothing like the players they were.

    Phillips, as I’ve said on here many times, has been woeful for about three years. I’d get Gareth Davies straight in next week, he looks a real live-wire!

    Cuthbert (again I’ve said before), can not defend! And his hands are so poor. He is one hell of an athlete though.

    Really like the look of Matthew Morgan, hell of a player. Wondering where he’ll play his rugby next year, I assume Bristol will let him leave on loan?

  3. Where’s Brighty?

    Scoreboard seemed to read; ‘basketball, internet police’ rugby team: 38.

    ‘Preference’ rugby team: 16.

    Trust he enjoyed it.

  4. Wales canchange as many players as they like until they change tactics the losses wil mount up, totally predictable unable ot unwilling to change what they do no point picking fair players when as we now the game plan wont change.

  5. Just can’t see Warrenball working against the boks. They not only invented physical domination in rugby, they perfected it!

    Wales actually have a great backline, and some depth as demonstrated. The problem as I see it for Gatland is that he has built a team to play one way and only one way and that works in the 6N but not with the SH. How does he now change the gameplan for the next game? Not easy but I think he needs to. Wales need to run round the boks as they won’t run through them. If he can mastermind that change in a week, I will be mighty impressed.

  6. Some extraordinary comments from Gatland and Edwards after match as if they didn’t know what to expect in SA. As for preparation time these players are together for weeks at a time throughout the season. Surely they don’t need to start from scratch each time. As for the players, we are incapable of clearing out at rucks because we don’t get there quickly enough as if the players don’t know what the moves are, therefore we live on slow ball. Phillips’s limitations don’t help. Jon Davies must have played his worst game for Wales, Roberts is one-dimensional and Cuthbert and North can’t defend to save their lives. North should have stayed in bed. At least Bigger showed some fight. The back row were almost invisible and Gethin did more work over the ball than either Lydiate and Shingler.
    Some of this lot are living on their past reputations. They’re not too big to drop it; may even do them some good. Give Gareth D, Jordan, Samson and Turnbill a go. It’s time for changes.

  7. How can Wales change a game plan? What does any game plan matter if a team can’t match up phsically esp @ the br/down?

    If a team can’t dominate @ scrum of l/out, they simply MUST get to the br/down 1st, EVERY time, otherwise they may as well go to the pub.

    Easier said than done, but quick scrum put ins on own ball, short l/outs (& reverse back to the hooker nr the oppo line?) to the front if unable to compete might help. So would ball retention, or if nec only, ACCURATE kicks to the corners & or putting it OUT, or putting on a Bokke’s nut with 2 big chasers down his throat @ the same time might also help.

    Additonally, NOT missing tackles is recommended & NOT making errors is likewise useful.

    Wales must move the ball around & get it to the wings, use wrap arounds, f/backs/wings etc entering line as 2nd wave, decoy runners & get the Saffa fwds galloping abt the field.

    If they’re held for a time they’ll get frustrated & remember @ Ellis Pk v NZ, they looked like they were running in treacle on ‘D’ more than once or twice.

    It largely abt getting the ball & denying it to the juggernaughts. Easy to say I know, harder to do. On the other hand, wales made up most of the Lions didn’t they?

    C’mon you Taffs, the overconfident, arrogant Boks won’t expect you to compete in the tight, get some parity & above all, win the collisions. But deny them that ball, keep thinking under pressure, don’t give ’em anything in errors & they’ll get frustrated, start punching, lose the plot… I hope.

    1. “How can Wales change a game plan?”

      I think you largely answered that question there. Well done.

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