Boks hold firm for win over Scotland
EDINBURGH (AFP) –
South Africa survived a second-half surge from Scotland to win 21-10 in the second round of autumn test matches at Murrayfield on Saturday, making it two wins out of two on their European tour.
Both Springbok tries came from hooker Adriaan Strauss with fly-half Pat Lambie adding one conversion and three penalties.
For Scotland, scrum-half Henry Pyrgos came off the bench to score a try and Greg Laidlaw had one conversion and one penalty.
The South Africans will now take wins over Ireland and Scotland on to Twickenham next Saturday when they will be looking to finish off their autumn series in style with a win over England.
The loss was Scotland’s fourth straight defeat at Murrayfield and it means crucially that they will not be among the top eight seeds when the 2015 World Cup draw is made next month.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer was pleased with the win, but admitted that it had been a bruising battle.
“We started well and were clinical in our finishing but in the second-half the Scots played superbly.
“We’ll take the win. In the last 20 minutes the guys didn’t panic and our defence was awesome. We are a young team amd will learn from this.
“We have to improve for next week.”
His Scotland counterpart Andy Robinson said that he thought the result should have been tighter.
“I think based on the second half we deserved more.
“I thought the Springboks defended really well and if they hadn’t done we would have won.
“We have a lot to learn in terms of improving our defence and in our attack. However, the guys can take credit that we can play against these levels of teams.”
Scotland made three changes from the team that lost 51-22 to the All Blacks, with David Denton and John Barclay joining skipper Kelly Brown in the back row, and Euan Murray back in at tighthead prop in place of Geoff Cross.
Meyer opted for two changes from the side that edged Ireland 16-12 in Dublin with Gurthro Steenkamp in for CJ van der Linde at loosehead prop and Juan de Jong taking over from Jaco Taute at outside centre.
South Africa applied the early pressure and signalled their attacking intentions after four minutes by punting into touch close to the Scottish line instead of kicking a makeable penalty.
That attack foundered, but three minutes later fly-half Lambie opened the scoring for the visitors with a penalty from just inside the Scottish half.
Laidlaw levelled at 3-3 in the 10th minute when a Springbok forward failed to roll away in the tackle, but Lambie restored the South African lead shortly after when Laidlaw was penalised at a lineout.
Some big hits from the Boks in the tackle and deft footwork from Lambie had Scotland back-pedalling and the pressure paid dividends after 21 minutes when the Springbok pack mauled its way over the Scottish line and Strauss touched down.
There was further trouble for the Scots as tearaway lock Richie Gray was forced off the field after taking a heavy knock to the head and then Laidlaw missed a straightforward penalty kick.
South Africa were well on top against a static Scotland side and further infringements by the home side saw Lambie stretch the lead to 14-3 with a penalty after 31 minutes.
Things went from bad to worse for the Scots shortly after the restart when hooker Strauss intercepted a Mike Blair pass 30 metres out and trundled in under the posts for his second try which put South Africa 21-3 up.
Scotland then brought on Glasgow scrum-half Pyrgos for his second cap, replacing Blair, and he immediately made his mark by bursting through a gap in the Springbok lineout to score.
The home side were suddenly in the driving seat and came close to adding a second try only to be thwarted by some stout defending from the Springboks camped on their own line.
South Africa were reduced to 14 men for the last five minutes when lock Flip van der Merwe was yellow-carded for coming in from the side, but despite their pressure, the Scots were unable to score again.