• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

South Africa 55 Scotland 6: Boks rampant as insane tour schedule takes gruelling toll on Cotter's colts

THAT was one way to bust the bubble of optimism that had build up around the Scotland team.

South Africa's Handre Pollard tackles Nick De Luca in Port Elizabeth                                         Photograph: PA
South Africa's Handre Pollard tackles Nick De Luca in Port Elizabeth Photograph: PA

It was certainly effective as the first tour under Vern Cotter started with three wins and ended with a proper old-fashioned stuffing.

The only saving grace is that unless somebody is daft enough to arrange another insane tour schedule like this, then it can be tagged as a one-off and should not matter in the long run.

Loading article content

It had been obvious all week that this game should never have been played. None of the Scottish players wearing a number between four and 12 on their backs have passed 15 Tests and two of the match-day squad have never started a professional game. It was one of the least experienced Scotland teams of recent times. And it showed.

They started poorly, improved, but then the exhaustion of the season, all the travel and a brutal examination by the South Africans took its toll as they tried to chase the game and after conceding three tries in the first half, they gave away another five in the second period to collapse to defeat.

Afterwards, Cotter was determined to find the positives. "The idea was to have a look at what we have got and what we are going to go and do next," he said. "It illustrated a lot of the things we are going to have to go away and work on to become competitive before the Rugby World Cup so, much as we hate losing, especially by a score like that, there are some very positive things to come out of it.

"Adam Ashe played his first game at 20, Grant Gilchrist has come in as captain and done exceptionally well. I think all the players have done well. The tour and the last game, even though we don't like it will be beneficial."

The players also felt that there were some plus points. "It took us a while to get hold of the ball but we tried to use it and found a few holes, though our execution let us down when we did," reflected Henry Pyrgos, the scrum-half.

"They are a great side and when we made mistakes we were made to pay. The boys never gave up, but it was frustrating. At the end we forced a few things and paid when they went wrong."

The match went wrong from the opening minutes when South Africa rejected a simple penalty to go for a line-out and earned the reward as they peeled round the back with the big forwards trying to bash their way to the line, Marcell Coetzee, the flanker, getting there in the end.

That was bad but predictable; what was worse was the concrete sign that the Springbok backs were on fire, with Willie Le Roux finishing a move that started on the other side of the field before JP Pietersen's delicate chip gave Lwazi Mvovo, the wing, space to beat the Scottish cover and grab the third try.

The best bit of the game from a Scotland point of view came in the second quarter, but no matter how hard they tried they could not manage a breakthrough, and had to be content with two Duncan Weir penalties, which at least ensured they were not "nilled" for the second time in a row by the same opponents.

The second half was back to the first quarter as the Springboks gained more and more control while Scotland got more and more desperate and made mistakes as a result. Handre Pollard, the World Junior Player of the Year, did nudge his side further ahead with an early penalty, but by and large they were running everything and reaping the rewards.

Coetzee got on the end of a driving line out for the first try of this period, before Pietersen turned finisher when he got the benefit of a TMO decision after seeming to lose the ball going for the line.

By now it was pure desperation from the Scots and the inevitable happened when Pyrgos was intercepted by Mvovo, who had no trouble making the line before young second row Lood de Jager got the final words with a couple of late scores, both directly from Scots mistakes - the first when nobody claimed the ball under a high kick and it bounced straight to him; the second when a dropped pass launched the counter and he was there for the off-load.

It was an unfortunate end to the tour, and it demonstrates to Cotter just how little he has to work with in terms of talent and experience, but he always knew this was a raw Scotland team without any experience where it mattered and that there would be a price to pay. He probably didn't expect it to be so high, however.

South Africa: W Le Roux (Z Kirchner 22-27, 74); C Hendricks, J Pietersen (M Boshoff 71), J Serfontein, L Mvovo; H Pollard, F du Preez (F Hougaard 29); C Oosthuizen (T Nyakane 67), B du Plessis (A Strauss 61), J du Plessis (M van der Merwe 49), L de Jager, V Matfield (C) (S Lewies 71), M Coetzee, S Burger (T Mohoje 67), D Vermeulen.

Scotland: S Hogg (P Murchie 66); S Maitland (D Fife 53), N De Luca, P Horne, T Seymour; D Weir, H Pyrgos (G Hart 75); A Dickinson (M Low 78), R Ford (K Bryce 60), G Cross (E Murray 50), T Swinson (J Gray 60), G Gilchrist, R Harley, C Fusaro (T Holmes 49) A Ashe.

Referee: G Jackson (New Zealand)

Attendance: 40,973

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

243987