Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Boks Nil Error-Strewn Scotland

David Denton is tackled by JP Pietersen - pic © Al Ross
David Denton is tackled by JP Pietersen - pic © Al Ross

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.

27 Responses

  1. Very disappointing all round. What else will the opposition do when winning 21-0 then 28-0 other than sit back, defend and make the losers look quite good, or at least competent? Which is what happened in the last half hour. We need a change at half back – I’m fed with Laidlaw’s ballooned passes – and Jackson just isn’t shaping up at Test level. We still have a good chance against the Wallabies next week, but if we gift chances and leave naïve defensive gaps again, they’ll be out of sight in 20 minutes and it will be the same old, same old. Some good signs of strength up front but the development of decent recycled ball remains poor. And after that first 20 minutes of appalling throwing in from Ross Ford, it was a miracle we were not 30 down before the end of the first quarter. And, as others have said on different sites, Ross is a hooker who can’t, er, hook.

    1. He is also a hooker who cannot throw. Many of these players are really pushing it, age wise, for the 2015 RWC. We need to be relying on them as impact subs, if at all, not as starters and really blood the Murchies, Seymours, Harleys, Heathcotes, Macarthers etc. I know some of these were injured or in Seymours case playing.

  2. Villain of the match was the drunk TMO.
    It is very easy here to blame the coaches and they must accept some responsbility. Jacksons and then Weirs decisions to prod kicks behind the boks must have been a tactical one but there was no one challenging it when it didnt work the 1st 5 times. My real concern is one I have had for years now with Scotland. An international coaches job is to put together a game plan, an ideaology, get the players to buy into it and to motivate them. It is not an international coaches job to teach them how to play rugby. The backs contain zero rugby intelligence. Where are the clever runs, the angles? Even if only one player tried them and the others were too dumb to read them at least someone would show potential. Why must the ball always be taken standing still? Laidlaw is far too slow in his delivery. Jackson is not international quality. At least Weir is direct (Heathcote has more skill than both). De Luca is anonymous against all but the weakest opposition. Evans has never done anything to earn his reputation. Lamont has suffered by being played in the centre where he is terrible but he is at least a direct winger. Scott & Hogg are the only 2 backs we have who are close to international standard. I believe there is a real psychological problem in the setup. Good players (and many of the forwards are very good) dont forget how to play rugbt. Maitland was an excellent S15 player but he looked lost today. Maybe its because he has no one around him of any quality, or maybe it’s because there is a larger psychological issue which has permeated through the set up for years. Given how small a pool of players we have it is very feasible that this would persist over many years if so. Get a sports psychologist in.

    1. Oh and Ford has not had a god international since the 09 Lions. Too much selection based on reputation; De Luca, Ford, E. Murray, Evans, Laidlaw. With no kicks today we saw what Laidlaw brought to the party. Nothing.

  3. Depressing match for Scotland but a game that should bring a bit of realism to the Pollyanna’s of Scottish rugby – we have a lot of work to do to be competitive at the next World Cup and we need to keep developing the squad as it still has no depth to speak of.

    1. The game was totally distorted by the 4 first line outs we lost on our own throw. It put us under a huge amount of pressure, prevented us getting a foothold in the game and contributed a major part to the loss. I am no forward’s expert and things did improve but Ross Ford should not play for Scotland again unless he solves it. He should now be behind MacArthur and Lawson for the hooker berth.

    2. The game was finally killed off around the 30 min mark by Jackson throwing an idiotic pass at Maitland’s shoulder to gift La Roux a score. If we had trailed by one or two tries we could have used our penalties to chip away at the score but gifting them two soft scores killed the game off. Jackson just doesn’t have the composure for test rugby and always forces things when we are on the back foot. He threw too many scrappy passes into the deck, didn’t vary his game enough and looked bereft of ideas. Weir made plenty of mistakes as well but must be given a shot so he can develop experience before the World Cup. Number 10 remains our huge Achilles heel.

    3. With the Boks happy to give penalties away our work at the breakdown was nowhere near aggressive enough to secure quick ball. Too many ball carriers running alone into two or three tacklers, one of whom would go straight from the ball. Real failure to protect the ball after one or two phases.

    4. I’m a fan of Laidlaw but his passing was poor and Cus looked much better when he came on. I thought Laidlaw was nailed on but would like to see Cus and Weir start against the Aussies.

    Positives: didn’t get hammered in the scrum as we feared.

    1. Weir to start definitely because Jackson isn’t a Test class 10. Not sure Weir is but we’ll never know unless we give him a starting shot. And Laidlaw to be dropped just to teach him the lesson that he isn’t and shouldn’t be a shoo-in for a Test side that has a decent pack deserving of much better support after they have won the ball. Great fan of Ross Ford over the years, but he needs to be chopped for the Wallabies match so that we can work out what kind of front three we want for the 6N. The upside to all of this angst is that actually for the first time in a fair while we do have some genuine choices in key positions. And because of that, we should make those choices now, three months ahead of the 6N.

  4. I can’t remember Scotland going over the gain line much at. After SA scored 3 tries, they were just going through the motions. I am really disappointed by Scotland’s physicallity. I felt Scotland were bullied off the paddock

  5. That was abysmal. Struggled to find anything to get behind. Hats off to the Boks, players and fans; dominant yet gracious and dignified. Would happily have them back.

    Big Gray Jr put himself about and was the only diamond in the rough. Don’t think I need to say anything else about Ford. But hooker is one position that we do infact have other viable options.

    Anyone want to buy an Australia ticket? ;-)

  6. Edit:
    “Hats of to the Boks, players ..”

    With the exception of Pieterson. F@#? Pieterson.

    “Anyone want to buy an Australian ticket ;-)”

    Ticket is now free.

  7. Well I did think that Johnson was looking more to winning against Aussie than SA, some of the players today were in last chance saloon but to be honest not many of today’s team put their hands up as first choice picks for next week. Failures today : Jackson , Laidlaw, De Luca, Ford, Hamilton, Barclay, Strokosch, Evans. I sincerely hope that these players are pushed to the fringes and kept only for injury cover. Taylor did not show much today to justify selection but it was his first cap so fairs fair. Lamont tried but his coat is on a shoogly nail. Seymour and Maitland were ok defensively and really had no chance in attack. Denton did some good things as did Ritchie Gray. In my opinion our two “stars today were Low and Dickenson because if they hadn’t secured the scrum so well on such a treacherous surface things could have been a lot worse. Low also did a lot of work in the loose and being left on for the whole game showed Johnson was content with his efforts. Rubbish team, rubbish game, rubbish weather, rubbish pitch, rubbish performance. Best Scottish aspect? the crowd.

    1. Classing Barclay or Lamont as failures is a bit much. Aside from one foolish offload to an opponent Barclay and Strokosch were the only reasons the Boks didn’t score more in the first half. Lamont has been the standout back so far (Scott aside) and again had a moment of rashness with a duffed kick but other than that led by example. Sadly no-one followed.

    2. There is a tendency among Scottish rugby fans to overreact to games like these and denounce the establishment, declare the year zero and announce the coming of a new era ushered in by fearless youth. Well it is daft – a couple of players deserve a stint on the sidelines and told they need to improve or they are out, but the squad remains basically sound.

      The main problems were there before and go back to Andy Robinson or beyond: poor number 10; flaky hooker; outcompeted at the breakdown. These problems are not going to be sorted overnight but hopefully we’ll see a reaction next week.

      It was a bit of a freak game caused by the collapse of our lineout. That is probably the easiest problem we face to fix and you’ll wait a long time to see us lose 5 lineouts in a game again, let alone the first 5 in a match.

      Personally, I can’t wait for next week and will be cheering on Scotland like crazy. I don’t expect us to win but I think it will be a lot more competitive (even though they battered the Irish).

  8. I haven’t posted here for a couple of years …. Nothing has changed since my last rant about the team under Haddock. Yet again I bought into the drivel the SRU produce and took my family up to see today’s game travelling up from England.
    The whole team need to take a long hard look at themselves – I compared their warm up with the Boks. One was a team totally committed to winning the game with precision aggression and vision ….the other seemed to lack cohesion and purpose wandering around the warm up area with no real purpose in any of the drills… of note both Strauss and Du Plessis went through at least 20 mins of lineout throws culminating in live contested ball. compared to Scoltands erm .. no lineout drill….The boks are well known for the hit around the breakdown with multiple direct pick and gos .Their drills revolved around this. This was literally happening 60 meters away from them yet it seemed to come as a great surprise to Scotland today
    My question is this ..Are we really watching the cream of Scotland rugby? …Honestly…on the back of this performance .my U11 team have a better grasp of the basics.
    In summary poor generic skills…. poor position orientated skills. No heads up rugby. No direct running ….no angles…no support runners. The usual crabbing the ball back and forth to each touchline circa 1980’s
    Positives…. em well…… we just played against the next finalists of the World Cup and kept the score under 30
    The wallabies will be rubbing their hands if we carry on like that… Here come a50 pt margin!

  9. Scotland need to start blooding new talent. We are far too slow in bringing young players on. We cannot persist with players who are not performing. We seem to be satisfied with 2nd rate performances. I would like to see Bennett given a chance as well as MacArthur . Weir needs to start in stead of the erratic Jackson and should be partnered by cus. De Luca and ford are surely at the end of the road

  10. Terrible.

    Laidlaws passes are pathetic, he takes two or three steps before he passes. Then it goes on to Jackson, if there’s anything on he panicks and we lose the ball. Then Weir comes on and kicks away any chance of a scoring opportunity. Murray is a lazy runner, often standing around the ruck as if were defending. Lamont is past it, throws to many 50/50 balls.

    I am not up with the play of Scottish Club rugby, but hopefully theres a 1st 5 in the waiting and a halfback.

    Cotter should have turned up before this test. Not a good way to start the 6 nations.

    Out with the old and in with the new.

    1. As far as I am aware Cotter doesn’t turn up until the June tour, so he is not around for the 6 nations

    2. Thanks Rory but is it before or after the tour he takes over? Do you know if he will actually be going on that tour?

      Do you have any dates and venues yet other than the USA in Houston on the 7th of June?

  11. Hugely disappointed with the result/performance but some of the reaction is a bit over the top. We were playing the 2nd best team in world rugby while missing a lot of our top guys. We could and should have done better but those saying it was the worst performance ever or for a long time have short memories , remember Tonga Nov. 12?
    For next week I would ring the changes and start with ;
    1)Grant , 2)MacArthur , 3)Murray
    4)Swinson , 5)Hamilton
    6)Brown , 7)Fusaro 8)Beattie
    9)Cussiter 10)Weir
    11)Lamont 12)Taylor 13)Bennett 14)Seymour

    1. I thought NDL played pretty well in the circumstances whereas Taylor looked like a rabbit in the headlights at times. I’m not saying he shouldn’t get another shot but I wouldn’t rush to see him in next week’s line up.

      Bennett also looked a little out of his depth versus Toulon and a Taylor-Bennett partnership in the centres has disaster written all over it. I’d rather see NDL paired with one of them.

      Otherwise, I think your lineup looks good and I’d have Jonny Gray on the bench but may be tempted to have Richie starting.

  12. Yeah I can see where you’re coming from , Taylor had a poor game but I think he is better than that and he did have to put up with the Laidlaw/Jackson effect inside him. Bennett seems to be being singled out unfairly IMHO and I think he should be on the bench at least so he has a taste of international rugby before the six nations . De Luca was OK at the weekend but we know what he can do so I would rather try something new. Maybe De Luca to start and give Bennett 30 mins?. Scott and Dunbar first choices when fit .

  13. I think Johnson is still going to try different players vs Aus. I think he will go with
    1. Grant 2. MacAurthur 3. Cross(as he hasn’t really played yet)
    4. Gilchrist(same as cross)5.Hamilton
    6.Brown 7. Fusaro 8 Beattie
    9. Cusiter/Pyrgos 10. Weir
    11. Lamont 12. Taylor 13. NDL 14. Seymour(if fit)
    15. Maitland

    If Seymour is unfit I would like to see Tonks at fullback and maitland on the wing but I expect Evans will get picked.

    16.Lawson 17.Dickinson 18. Murray 19. Swinson/Gray 20. Barclay
    21. Custer/Pyrgos 22. Heathcote 23. Bennet

    Some of this squad is due to rotation and wouldn’t be my first pick but I feel this will be good experience for those involved and a decent side. How much efffect do you think the drinking ban will have on Aus?

  14. I have been a huge supporter of the experimentation and the blooding of new talent since the end of the 6 Nations. It has been an inventory of Scottish professional playing stocks.

    I now believe that after 5 games of the above (3 in SA, 2 in Nov) there has been the opportunity to see all there is to see for the moment. I therefore believe that against Australia we need to see the results of this inventory come together in what will be a prototype side for the 6 Nations. from a personnel and tactical point of view.

    To have one more game of experimentation, last chances and opportunities would be a mistake. Let’s see what has been discovered and let’s see them playing the way we are going to play in the 6 Nations. The side that takes the field against the Quallabies should (barring injuries) contain at least 11 of the side who run on in the 1st 6 Nations

    Let’s see what the last 6 months have brought us and let’s get out and belt the Aussies so I can enjoy another couple of years of gloating down here :)

  15. And on the subject of the Quallabies they have been handing out the suspensions for going hard on the drink Tuesday night before the Ireland game – Adam Ashley-Cooper, Benn Robinson, Nick Cummings, Tatafa Polota-Nau and Liam Gill copped a match each and will miss the Scotland game.

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