Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


South Africa 30-17 Scotland

Scotland v South Africa

A much-improved performance from Scott Johnson’s side ultimately wasn’t enough as South Africa recorded back-to-back wins in the Quadrangular Series.

There was a notable difference in intensity from last weekend’s dismal defeat to Samoa as Johnson’s side caused havoc at the breakdown with Al Strokosch and Jim Hamilton to the fore throughout.

Greig Laidlaw, captain for the day in the absence of the injured Kelly Brown, kicked a pair of penalties for the visitors in the opening period.

There was a glimpse of what Johnson’s side offer in attack, as great work from debutante winger Tommy Seymour put Matt Scott away, and the Edinburgh centre found his way to the line for his second Test try.

With news that Brad Barritt has joined The Lions squad, Scott can consider himself desperately unlucky to miss out having pulled the strings in attack for the tourists in Nelspruit.

Strong work in defence, where Alex Dunbar also looked composed and Scott Lawson brought experience to a depleted pack, saw the visitors hold on to lead at the interval.

Half-time: South Africa 6-10 Scotland

There was to be another moment for Scotland fans to savour, though, as another try followed shortly after the resumption, when Glasgow centre Alex Dunbar grabbed his first Test try to put the Scots 11 points clear with the aid of Laidlaw’s second conversion. Unfortunately that also saw the withdrawal of the second fly-half in Peter Horne who will miss the remaining match along with Ryan Wilson.

Momentum swung the way of the Springboks as their monstrous pack rumbled towards the line before referee Romain Poite awarded a penalty try which Morne Steyn converted to reduce the arrears. From then on it was, by and large, all South Africa as they got the benefit of some dubious refereeing calls, while a needless and ridiculously soft yellow card for Jim Hamilton didn’t help the Scottish cause.

Centre JJ Englbrecht went over just before the hour to give the hosts the lead, while Steyn added another conversion and they sealed the win with a final try right on the full-time siren.

The final scoreline flattered the Boks as replacement Jan Serfontein grabbed his first international try to seal the Springboks’ place in the final against Samoa.

Scott Johnson’s side can take heart from their performance as they pushed South Africa closer than initial odds of 250-1 would suggest (they shortened to 7-1 at half time), whilst Strokosch, Dunbar, Scott and Laidlaw can all be proud of their individual efforts.

5 Responses

  1. A much improved performance, no question about that, with players playing at a level and with the intensity that we know they can – we should see this every time though. A little disappointing in the second half, as discipline weakened (daft YC or not) and injuries led to positional shifts. Wonderful to see Laidlaw playing with such panache, full credit to him for turning it around, and Stroks and debutant Tim Swinson were standouts in an excellent overall display from the pack

  2. Agree that this performance should be the benchmark for every Scotland game. I wonder if Humphrey’s influence was seen in the improvement at the breakdown? Glad to see that the caricature of SJ asking the Scotland team to meekly stand-off the breakdown area is clearly not the case but getting the players to perform here might be another matter.

    Competition in the squad will help. If Hamilton/Gray and Kellock know they will lose their place to the likes of Swinson if they play poorly it can only help to motivate them.

    Great to see Laidlaw play so well and the Scott-Dunbar partnership bloom!

  3. I am a SA supporter and frankly we were saved by the altitude getting to Scotland. We were predictable. Scottish defense read us like a open book.

    We gave too many cues away about who is to get the ball, and the Scots read them like a Wilbur Smith novel. Until the we come up with an attacking formula that allows them to hit either the forwards or the backs (or both in the same play) without sending obvious cues to the opposing defenders, we will continue to struggle with slow ball, defences that are set and little continuity.

  4. A very good performance from Scotland and very unlucky to lose out. The final score of the game was particularly annoying. I usually hate being the team that was brave in defeat but there seam to be some genuine positives:

    1. Strokes is actually a very good 6 when wants to be. I wonder if he is benifiting from the harder surfaces but in my opinion he has had his best two games in a Scotland shirt the last two weeks.

    2. Not sure if Laidlaw has taken the criticism of kicking away posession on board but on Saturday he showed that he capable of delivering very quick ball and Scotland’s attack was better for it. Much better than the slow ball that comes after a quick chat with the ref!

    3. We finally look relatively dangerous in the centres. With Bennett coming through, Scotland will have some genuine midfield options.

    4. For all the stick he usually takes on these forums, I thought Sean Lamont played really well and put in a few big hits when Scotland needed them. Proved that he is still a viable option though I would prefer him to be on the wing.

    All in all a very good performance and I actually applaud Roman Poitte for ignoring the TMO recommendation on the try (not so much the card!) as it would have been ridiculously bad luck to have one of best trys in years to be (wrongly) disallowed for a technicality some 4 minutes before the score! How far are the referees allowed to go back now? I am sure that you could always find an infringement if you went back far enough.

  5. That was as good a performance as can be asked of such a young side playing against expectations and away from home, real pride shown.

    But the same old mistakes came about in the second half, the lack of discipline costing Scotland. The ref wasn’t kind to us, but we made South Africa’s job much to easy with a series of penalties, particularly Dunbar’s nonsensical block on Habana. This did seem to match with Laidlaw moving to 10, and in the first half it was easy to hear him yelling at his forwards throughout. If we have to play him at stand-off against Italy I’ll be a bit worried.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion