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Springbok player ratings: Damian Willemse scores high, Manie Libbok missed kicks but good on attack

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The Springboks suffered their first defeat at the 2023 Rugby World Cup after losing 13-8 to Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

Missed kicks at goal cost the team at the end and their inability to convert attacking opportunities in the Irish 22m area.

IOL Sport’s Leighton Koopman rates the individual Bok performances after their defeat to Ireland.

15. Damian Willemse (8): Looks at home at 15 and the Boks should not move him again. Brilliant under the high ball and his attacking caused problems for the Irish defence.

14. Kurt-Lee Arendse (7): Solid in the air under the high ball, but needed more attacking opportunities. Brilliant penalty steal on the ground in a spot where he wiggled his way in.

13. Jesse Kriel (5): Should’ve held on to the ball when he popped it into Siya Kolisi’s face on the try line. Missed a few tackles and died too often with the ball.

12. Damian de Allende (8): That bump on two Ireland players, including Johnny Sexton, warmed the hearts of many South Africans. He defended strongly too.

11. Cheslin Kolbe (6): Didn’t get enough opportunities on the attack but tried to create opportunities when he received the ball. Solid on defence though and fielding the kicks of Ireland.

10. Manie Libbok (6): Missed a tackle on Bundi Aki and two vital attempts at goal but otherwise attacked brilliantly as usual. He kicked to the corner brilliantly off both feet.

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9. Faf de Klerk (7): Early terrible pass to Cheslin Kolbe on the wing. But he was lively as usual and kept Ireland turning back with some good kicks. He defended well as well.

8. Jasper Wiese (7): Played his heart out on the attack and carried the ball up in contact with no regard for his body. Massive on defence as well and made a crucial steal.

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (7): He was tireless in his efforts to carry the ball up and tackle the Irish defenders. Made some monster hits but gave away a couple of penalties that he won’t be happy with.

6. Siya Kolisi (7): Hit the rucks and tackled like a man possessed especially in the opening stanza. An inspiring performance by the Bok captain in a tight contest.

5. Franco Mostert (7): He terrorised the Irish lineouts at the start of the game and managed some brilliant turnovers. Worked like a donkey on defence and carried up some good balls.

4. Eben Etzebeth (7): A powerful performance by the lock and he led the South African onslaught. Excellent chasing the high kicks and again with some robust defence.

3. Frans Malherbe (6): An uncharacteristically quiet performance by the Bok scrummager. Wasn’t that present in carrying the ball and was penalised at scrum at a stage.

2. Bongi Mbonambi (7): Worked hard all over the park and carried the ball strongly. He was solid on the defence alongside Etzebeth in that first half and took the Boks forward.

1. Steven Kitshoff (7): Won the first Bok penalty at the scrum, he was fired up from the start. The prop also put in some massive hits, setting the tone at the front.


16. Deon Fourie (6): One skew lineout at a vital stage, but worked tirelessly when he came on.

17. Ox Nche (7): Comes on and wins the first scrum penalty overpowering his opponent. Solid defence.

18. Trevor Nyakane (6): Came on and strengthened the Bok scrum helping to win a vital penalty. Had to come on earlier, though.

19. Jean Kleyn (6) Showed some good physicality when he came on, carried the ball up strongly, and defended well.

20. RG Snyman (7): He is so good as an impact player and hits a gap like the Bok centres could not on the night. Should he be a starter?

21. Marco van Staden (6): Some strong carries after entering the fray and worked hard at the breakdown but didn’t get the reward.

22. Kwagga Smith (8): Made an immediate impact when he came on. Vital counter-ruck at a stage to disrupt Ireland’s attacking ball.

23. Cobus Reinach (6): Spread the ball good while trying to get the Bok attack going late in the game.


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