15. Liam Williams: 5
Oh dear. One moment of sheer brainlessness cost his side a sensational win. He was solid under the high ball and had a couple of promising darts in attack, but he will be asking himself – along with the rest of Wales – why he had to lead with the elbow and why he didn’t at least make an attempt to wrap his arm.
14. Alex Cuthbert: 7.5
Better. No real calamities with his defensive positioning this time around and caused the Springboks all sorts of problems with his power, pace, and attitude for work. Faded slightly in the second period though.
13. Jonathan Davies: 5
Disappointing from the most talented centre on the pitch. He had a couple of moments in attack but it was overshadowed by some disappointing defence – statistics of three tackles made, four missed are not good enough for any centre, let alone a player of his quality.
12. Jamie Roberts: 7
A big display at long last. He trucked the ball up with venom all afternoon and showed a good support line to crash over for a deserved try in the first half. Looked fired up and made amends for his dismissal the previous week.
11. George North: 3.5
Pants. He announced himself with a huge carry into JP Pietersen in the opening exchanges, and then touched the ball twice afterwards in 75 minutes, making one further metre. Missed two relatively straight forward tackles which led to tries, and was generally invisible. Questions about his fitness have to be raised.
10. Dan Biggar: 6
Stood up well in defence and kicked well off the tee to put his side in control. His yellow card was costly but understandable and he was one of about four who could have received a trip to the naughty bin. Should have shown more authority in the closing exchanges though to get himself closer to the sticks.
9. Mike Phillips: 7.5
His best performance in a Welsh shirt for four years, in my opinion. His early running was a constant threat to the Springbok defence and he set the tone for a physical display. Faded as the game wore on though and was as guilty as Biggar in not calling more threatening plays in the last throes of the game.
1. Gethin Jenkins: 7
Didn’t have it all his own way in the scrum but his work rate around the park was magnificent. He made all of his tackles and flew into rucks with gusto in a much improved and far more aggressive display.
2. Ken Owens: 6.5
Finished his try well but fell off more than his fair share of tackles and struggled to generate the hard yards required at times. Always a willing operator though and the lineout was pretty solid mostly.
3. Samson Lee: 5.5
Decent first effort but found the going tough against The Beast at times. A promising rumble early on wasn’t really backed up and he wasn’t particularly prominent around the park.
4. Luke Charteris: 6.5
Didn’t shirk under the physicality and weighed in with an impressive eight tackles, as well as being an aggressive presence at the breakdown. His cynical yellow card was simply stupid, however, and took the gloss off an otherwise strong display.
5. Alun Wyn Jones: 6.5
A powerful performance and a super display in the lineout, where he made five takes, but questions have to be asked about his side’s discipline and his ability to enforce it. He received ample warning from Walsh but still the men in red kept shooting themselves in the foot.
6. Dan Lydiate: 8
Much more like the Dan Lydiate we all know. His pace off the mark was better this week, meaning that he invariably chopped the big South Africans down behind the gainline – he was one of the biggest reasons that the Springboks struggled for momentum.
7. Josh Turnbull: 7
A promising display. Plenty of energy and, although he missed a couple of tackles, his enthusiasm and aggression in the loose was a thorn in the Springboks’ side. Couldn’t get his hands on the ball to force turnovers though… a reminder of how much Wales miss Warburton.
8. Toby Faletau: 9
The game’s outstanding player. He made a magnificent 18 tackles with none missed and responded to criticism (from myself included) over his carrying by making more metres for his side than anyone except for Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts. Superb work-rate.
Aside from Aaron Jarvis, the subs were only on for 6 minutes and so could have no effect but to watch the South Africans nick the game at the death. Jarvis looked decent in the scrum but we didn’t see too much more of him.
By Mike Cooper (@RuckedOver)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images