Friday 20 September 2019

Rassie relieved to come away from Scottish clash with a narrow victory

South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
South Africa's head coach Rassie Erasmus. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Richard Bath

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus has credited the Springboks' improved poise in tight matches for their 26-20 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Four of the Boks' six losses this season have been by five points or fewer, but the team has turned the tables in recent weeks with a 29-26 win in France and the victory in Edinburgh.

"We're learning how to close out games and that's why we won this game because Scotland were as good as us," said Erasmus. "The maturity of this team is starting to show because we are now winning games from tight situations."

Scotland have beaten Ireland, England, France, Wales and Australia at Murrayfield in the last two years, with a narrow 22-17 defeat by New Zealand 12 months ago their only defeat in their 11 previous tests at home.

"The current world rankings doesn't indicate how tough it is to come and play here and we could have lost the game in the dying minutes," Erasmus said.

"We're definitely not the finished product yet, but we are slowly growing into a better team.

Force

"To beat a team that has become a real force in world rugby, a team that is on the up, in the middle of a good home run, is satisfying."

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Erasmus could be without skipper Siya Kolisi for next weekend's clash with Wales after the flanker appeared to attempt a head-butt on Pete Horne, who was holding him on the ground as he tried to get up from a ruck.

"I heard about it just after the game, but I haven't seen it," Erasmus said. "I'm sure the citing commissioner will take a look and if there was anything serious and we are in the wrong, what comes our way we have to accept.

"I know him as a player and as a man so I'd be surprised (if it was malicious)."

The visitors competed ferociously at the breakdown, slowed Scotland's ball down, and on at least eight occasions Scotland were turned over at the breakdown.

Given Scotland play England at Twickenham on the last day of the Six Nations, while they may face the Springboks in the World Cup quarter-finals next October, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend believes this loss was an invaluable learning experience.

"South Africa competed at every breakdown and made sure we had to make the right options every time," he said. "They did give some penalties but, in the main, they won that area, which is disappointing because that's an area where we've been really strong in."

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