Tuesday 24 April 2018

Robinson predicts bright future for passionate Scots

Scotland 21 South Africa 17

Alasdair Reid

Fifteen minutes into this match, a South African supporter rose from his seat in Murrayfield's west stand and delivered a withering taunt.

"Come on, Scotland," he bellowed. "Give us a game!" What's that line about being careful about what you wish for? Scotland gave him a game all right, but probably not the one he wanted.

The Scots were passionate, pragmatic and precise. They were sharp in contact and sure-footed on the ball. They exploited South Africa's mistakes and mopped up their own errors brilliantly.

As it was, the biggest slice of good fortune was enjoyed by the South Africans, when a dreadful line-out throw somehow fell into the arms of Willem Alberts, who flopped over for the game's only try in the 71st minute. However, Morne Steyn had inexplicably been substituted, and Patrick Lambie, the rookie replacement, made a hash of the conversion attempt.

Tactical bungles like that will be on the charge sheet when Peter de Villiers, the South Africa coach, faces the music on his return home. But Andy Robinson, his Scotland counterpart, goes from strength to strength.

"We'll go step by step," Robinson said. "We've got a long way to go. But you saw today the commitment, the will and the attitude of every single one of the squad. Right across the board there's something brewing."

Scotland also enjoyed the leadership of Rory Lawson. Last January, it was Lawson's sad duty to greet mourners at the funeral of his grandfather Bill McLaren, but he added a twist to the occasion by handing out Hawick Balls, the sweets that were the commentator's favourite indulgence.

On Saturday, Lawson offered them to the Scotland players. "Papa said it would give you that extra yard, and maybe it did today," he said.

The kicking of Dan Parks, who scored all their points, kept the scoreboard clicking over, although as much credit should be given to the Scottish forwards, who played like men possessed after their 49-3 humiliation by the All Blacks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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