Good second half against Ireland, good first half against Scotland … warts and all, the Springboks continue unbeaten on their season-ending tour of the northern hemisphere.
The challenge now, perhaps, will be to attempt to produce a more acceptably consistent showing over the course of 80 minutes if they are to also see off England at Twickenham next Saturday for a clean sweep.
In a nutshell, the Boks again simply demonstrated, in seeing off the Scots 21-10 at Murrayfield, what we already know about them under Heyneke Meyer’s coaching tenure: that they are masters of physicality and sometimes amazingly unyielding defence, but leave many, many question marks when it comes to pizzazz.
Video highlights: Scotland v South Africa
That fact is reflected in forwards – admirably headed by Adriaan Strauss and Francois Louw – largely bossing the Sport24 performance card.
Here’s how we rated the Boks:
15 Zane Kirchner 6.5
This is becoming habitual: once again Kirchner didn’t dazzle (the Bok game-plan hardly helps) but you also have to laud his excellent composure and positional sense on defence … particularly in the under-siege second half.
14 JP Pietersen 6.5
Oh, for better opportunities for the long-legged right wing to build a head of running steam! But he still managed an influential game, courtesy of some inspiring, powerful drive-back tackling.
13 Juan de Jongh 6.5
One near-clean line break from what arguably amounted to one opportunity … if only there had been more? Also laid those lingering “size” doubts in some circles to rest with strong awareness and resolve on defence.
12 Jean de Villiers 7
Seriously committed and industrious considering his lead-up days were mostly spent in bed with flu. It’s a shame he becomes more and more a “contact” player in advancing years, but the skipper did ensure some key go-forward, all the same.
11 Francois Hougaard 6
More adhesive in defensive terms than against Ireland. But just maybe it’s time look at someone like Lwazi Mvovo out wide again, and even consider Hougaard’s restoration to No 9 at Twickenham.
10 Pat Lambie 5.5
Whether his natural game is currently restricted by “orders” or not, the Sharks darling again didn’t quite manage to exert any meaningful authority in the flyhalf slot. The No 10 riddle stays unanswered for the time being.
9 Ruan Pienaar 6
Solid and functional without being earth-shattering. One welcome mini-break, and a good finish by him to the punishing game. But also leaves some nagging doubts about the stealth of his service.
8 Duane Vermeulen 7
Strong man, yeoman worker … we’ve always known that. Saturday only underlined those hallmarks as he got stuck in with relish where the sun don’t shine. No silkier strings to his bow yet, mind.
7 Willem Alberts 7
Strong man, yeoman worker … oops, sorry, did we say that of the previous guy? You still feel the Bok loose trio could do with a whippet-like game-breaker, but the flip side is that the current combo undoubtedly does much more that’s good than bad. Alberts certainly hurt some Scots in collision.
6 Francois Louw 8
Is this the form open-sider of world rugby? Another cracker of a match, to rank right up with his demon display in Dublin, and maybe even then some. Official choice for man of the match.
5 Juandré Kruger 6.5
Tackling technique and precision can still let him down on the odd occasion, but the Bulls No 5 did lift the bar a notch for 70 minutes on his iffy showing against Ireland.
4 Eben Etzebeth 7
Just 21, yet easily the senior Bok lock at present! Stays simply indispensable, despite such a gruelling maiden top-flight season. Amazing lineout prowess for a No 4 (who tends to be the more secondary lock in that capacity in the modern game), gritty mauling and some very timely tackles when Boks were under cosh.
3 Jannie du Plessis 7.5
Again, you could see why Heyneke Meyer was so determined to somehow patch up his niggles and have him out there, battle-weariness and all, for that right shoulder at scrum-time. Look how the set-piece wobbled when he was subbed at 53 min …
2 Adriaan Strauss 8
The consummate, all-round performance. Dead-eye accurate throwing-in, inspiring work as an extra fetcher, zealous mauler … and his second, opportunistic try was probably more important than his first in terms of ensuring precious daylight before the Scottish rearguard action.
1 Gurthrö Steenkamp 6.5
Largely satisfying return to the No 1 shirt for the bald Bok stalwart. Robust scrumming, especially initially, and a valuable carry during the lead-up to the tourists’ rolling-maul try.
Subs with enough game-time for rating:
17 CJ van der Linde 4
Ouch … fairly traumatic 27 minutes at the scrummaging office when he took over at tighthead, and paid a price in penalties.
18 Heinke van der Merwe 6
Perhaps not quite as forceful as when his fresh legs were infused against Ireland, but mostly fitted in soundly after Steenkamp’s call-off.
20 Marcell Coetzee 6.5
Nice ability to inject urgency and high tempo almost immediately.