Saturday 17 March 2018

Scotland bounce back to dash Boks' Slam hopes

Scotland 21 South Africa 17

Mike Averis at Murrayfield

Scotland, on the ropes last week when they were hammered 49-3 by New Zealand, bounced back to deny the Springboks the chance to achieve their first Grand Slam tour since 1960.

On a cold and damp day, Scotland did what they do best, never allowing South Africa to settle while making best use of the visitors' lack of experience in vital areas of the field. The back row, led by John Barclay, harried, and Dan Parks kicked his points.

It was not the kind of advert for international rugby that will help to fill the 30,000 empty seats at Murrayfield, not that Scotland coach Andy Robinson will worry. After the pain of last week he was confident of getting Scotland back to winning ways, and so it proved. They now have four victories from their past five internationals -- over Ireland, Argentina (twice) and now the team ranked second in the world.

The only try went to the tourists, their replacement lock Willem Alberts going over, as he did in Cardiff a week ago. This time it came from a line-out that was so badly misdirected he was the only one around when the ball returned from orbit.

South Africa came second best to the boot of Parks, who cleaned up with a perfect 21 points from six penalties and a neat drop-goal. Against that Morne Steyn missed one kick, but when his boot was needed the most, the precise South African out-half was already off the field, replaced by Patrick Lambie -- his coach, Peter de Villiers, responsible for another questionable decision.

Joe Ansbro's arrival into the Scottish team, a late change for the injured Max Evans, the promotion of Rory Lawson to captain and scrum-half and a shuffling of the pack meant five changes and it showed immediately.

Within a minute of the start, Scotland were shoved off their own ball at the scrum and within three they were three points behind when Ansbro was caught offside and Morne Steyn kicked the penalty. The Boks squandered six points within nine minutes -- Frans Steyn missing from half way after Euan Murray had been penalised for dropping the scrum -- before Morne Steyn got the scoreboard moving again.

It was not the start Scotland would have wanted and Robinson was threatening damage to his coach's cabin before backs and forwards began to get a toe-hold on the game and Parks calmed things with six points, a penalty and three more from a snappily taken drop-goal.

The new boy at full-back for South Africa, Zane Kirchner, was all at sea and nowhere near the ball when Scotland won the penalty that took them into the lead, Parks converting from out on the left before landing a third penalty from bang in front when the Boks defence wandered offside.

Seven days after the hammering from the All Blacks, it was all that Robinson would have dared to ask for from the first 40 minutes. Scotland held their nerve in the second half and closed the match out for a memorable victory.

Scorers -- Scotland: Parks 6 pens, 1 d-g. South Africa: Alberts try, Steyn 4 pens

Scotland: H Southwell; N Walker (C Paterson 73), J Ansbro, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Parks, R Lawson (c); A Jacobsen, R Ford (D Hall 68), E Murray (M Low 69), S MacLeod (R Vernon 34), R Gray, N Hines, J Barclay, K Brown (R Rennie 78).

South Africa: Z Kirchner; G Aplon, F Steyn (P Lambie 63), J de Villiers, L Mvovo, M Steyn; F Hougaard (R Pienaar 46); T Mtawarira (CJ van der Linde 72), B du Plessis, J du Plessis (A Strauss 73), B Botha (F van der Merwe 64), V Matfield (c), D Stegmann (W Alberts 46), J Smith, R Kankowski.

Referee: S Dickinson.


Sunday Independent

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