Scotland slumped to a 28-0 defeat in their second November Test outing against South Africa at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Tries from Willem Alberts, Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen and Coenie Oosthuizen were enough to see off a home side that were blighted by handling errors and imprecision.
The Scots could not be faulted for the way they threw themselves at their illustrious guests, but a combination of blunt attack and bruising Springbok defence rendered them both tryless and pointless come the full-time whistle.
The Boks were rarely troubled, as Scott Johnson’s side coughed up possession and penalties on numerous occasions, stunting opportunities, and spoiling good field position.
The set-piece too was a nightmare for the hosts, as they lost a string of lineouts thanks to poor throwing and good contention from the visitors, and the Murrayfield pitch once again made for less than ideal scrummaging conditions.
The breakdown was an aspect of play largely dominated by the South Africans, as the immovable objects of Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw planted themselves over the ball time and again to deny the hosts quick ball, or win penalties and turnovers.
The game began in ominous fashion for Scotland, with the Boks opting to kick to touch after winning what was a very kickable penalty in the home 22.
There was something of an air of inevitability as the visitors set up a driving maul, and Alberts was the man in possession as the forwards piled over the try-line.
The Scots reacted well, and begun to build phases in midfield with some strong carrying from the likes of Al Strokosch and Dave Denton.
But an error cost them dear once again. With the opportunity of a potential overlap presenting itself, Ruaridh Jackson’s pass went loose, and was scooped up by the flying Le Roux. The full-back juggled for a moment, but gathered possession to sprint home untouched from some sixty metres.
With the Scots staring at a 14-0 deficit, the Boks struck again with a truly magnificent score, and Le Roux was once again at the forefront.
The sort of incisive running that lit up the Rugby Championship came to the fore in Edinburgh as he exploited a midfield gap to scythe through the home line, before flighting a perfect kick to the far corner and the onrushing Pietersen.
The winger, on his fiftieth cap, gathered and crossed the line for his side’s third try, and Pat Lambie converted for a 21-0 half-time lead.
Scotland came out strongly in the second-half, but their attacking play was too static, too slow and too far behind the gain line to trouble a typically abrasive Springbok defence.
And another driving maul from close range saw them fall further behind, with replacement tighthead Oosthuizen burrowing over for try number four.
From that point on it was virtually all Scotland.
The Scots continued to lack penetration, though, despite enjoying over 70% in both possession and territory in the second-half.
The offensive effort improved with the introduction of the feisty Duncan Weir at fly-half, and more good carrying from Strokosch and Sean Lamont saw the hosts camped in their opponents’ 22 for much of the final quarter.
It was a moment of intelligence from the Warriors’ pivot that almost put Scotland on the scoreboard, as his crossfield grubber kick to the corner was chased down by Max Evans.
But the Castres utility back failed the ground the ball, and the Boks were able to close out the game without conceding a single point.
Final Score: Scotland 0-28 South Africa
Referee: Jerome Garces
Man of the Match: Plenty of contenders in the green and gold, with Willie Le Roux an outstanding performer. But for his brilliant work at the breakdown in constantly stifling the home attack, Francois Louw gets the nod from us. The openside suffered a late injury and was stretchered from the field in the closing stages, and we hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.
Moment of the Match: Undoubtedly Pietersen’s stunning long-range try.
Villain of the Match: Nothing nasty to report beyond the usual handbags.