Springboks Too Superior For The Scots
South Africa v Scotland
Can an inexperienced Scottish side overcome the in-form Springboks?
South Africa have consolidated their position as the second best team in world rugby in the last twelve months, winning thirteen out of fifteen, their only defeats coming against the all-conquering All Blacks.
They returned to action this month with one thumping 47-13 victory over a World XV and followed up with two more against Wales, winning 38-16 in Durban before scraping a narrow success with a late penalty try in Nelspruit last weekend.
While they waited for Vern Cotter to fulfil his contract at Clermont, Scotland endured a miserable autumn and an equally dismal Six Nations campaign, in which their sole success was a narrow win in Rome. The Cotter era has kicked off with three wins on tour, but a young Scottish side have made heavy weather of beating the USA, Canada and Argentina.
As this Test falls outside the IRB’s official window, South Africa have been unable to prevent clubs recalling their players. Several first team Springboks have been released, including Schalk Brits, Bakkies Botha, Francois Louw, Bryan Habana and Morne Steyn.
Steyn’s replacement Johan Goosen is struggling with injury so Heyneke Meyer has called up World Junior Player of the Year, Handre Pollard, along with experienced hooker Adriaan Strauss.
Scotland were already missing David Denton, who pulled out of the squad ahead of the Argentina game, and will be without Gordon Reid, who has returned home to rest before pre-season training. Tighthead prop Euan Murray has been recalled to bolster the squad and Cotter has also called up uncapped back row forwards Tyrone Holmes and Adam Ashe.
Of the 24 matches played between these sides, Scotland have won just five, and only one of the last eleven.
That win came at Murrayfield in 2010, a 21-17 triumph secured largely by the boot of Dan Parks, who co-incidentally announced his retirement this week.
Since that win, Scotland have lost three times to the Springboks, by increasing margins, the latest defeat coming in Edinburgh last November, when they conceded 28 points without reply, the first time they’d failed to score against South Africa since 1951.
Scotland’s record away from home in this fixture is poorer still. They’ve lost all six of their encounters on South African soil, their last three by an average of 19 points.
Both sides earned scrappy wins last time out and both are missing key players, but there the parallels end. Scotland’s summer victories have come against inferior opponents, whilst South Africa have been taking on some of the world’s best, and although the Springboks have seven players out, they have the kind of strength in depth that Scotland can only dream of.
Up against a team of fringe players fighting to be part of South Africa’s Rugby Championship campaign, an inexperienced Scottish side could be in for a hiding. Back South Africa -23 at 10/11 in the Match Handicap market.