Scotland suffer their most conclusive defeat to Springboks in 62 years

Scott Johnson’s team looked what they were – an understrength team with 200 caps fewer than South Africa

Willie Le Roux of South Africa celebrates after his a try against Scotland at Murrayfield. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Willie Le Roux of South Africa celebrates after his a try against Scotland at Murrayfield. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 01:00


Scotland left Murrayfield last night empty-handed having suffered their most conclusive defeat to the side currently second best in the world in 62 years and without a point to their name for the first time since the current number one side, New Zealand, beat them in the 2007 World Cup.

Scott Johnson’s team looked what they were – an understrength team with 200 caps fewer than South Africa. If the Springboks, as Heyneke Meyer the coach insists, are over here to learn before the 2015 World Cup, then the lessons are going very well indeed.

On a cheerless and chill Edinburgh afternoon South Africa exposed the gap Scotland will have to bridge before the two sides meet in Newcastle in 22 months’ time.

The last time they failed to score against South Africa was in 1951.

Yesterday they were three tries down in just over a half an hour and pride in chasing the game led to them turning down penalties in the hope of a bigger turnaround.

Rounded off game
It did not come. Instead the big South Africa forwards rounded off the game much as they started it, driving a lineout and splintering Scottish resistance.

That try went to the replacement prop Coenie Oosthuizen but it was the double strike in three minutes by the full-back Willie le Roux, scooting 60 metres to score the first and then laying on the second for the wing JP Pietersen, which had settled things.

The first six minutes were a brutal illustration of how the Springboks like to play. From the moment Ruaridh Jackson missed touch 22 seconds into the game, no Scot touched the ball for five minutes, by which time they were seven points down.

Bit by bit Fourie du Preez, their lead tactician and scrumhalf, inched the Springboks upfield, using his big men to pound away at the midfield. Even when a Scot was penalised for the inevitable moment of ill-discipline, South Africa opted to keep on the pressure.

Rose higher
Pat Lambie kicked for the corner instead of the posts, Duane Vermeulen rose higher than anyone else and in a flash the drive was on with that monument of a man Willem Alberts being driven over by the combined weight of the Springbok front row.

For his try, Le Roux went on his own; for South Africa’s third he ran through a disorganised defence and made about 40 metres before a precise left-foot allowed the right-wing Pietersen to get home.

With Lambie converting all three Scotland were 21 points down after 32 minutes. Game over.

Not that Scotland conceded an inch.

Indeed, as the day got wetter they got stronger, but when South Africa went back to driving a lineout in the 52nd minute the Scots again had no answer.

There was not even the consolation of the brothers Gray, the 47th pair to play for Scotland, in action together.
Guardian Service

SCOTLAND: Maitland, Seymour (Evans 67), De Luca, Taylor, Lamont, Jackson (Weir 56), Laidlaw (Cusiter 67), Dickinson (Grant 56), Ford (Lawson 56), Moray Low, Richie Gray (Jonny Gray 62), Hamilton, Strokosch, Barclay (Beattie 66), Denton. Subs not used: Cross.

SOUTH AFRICA: le Roux, Pietersen, Fourie, de Villiers (Engelbrecht 72), Habana, Lambie, du Preez (Pienaar 66), Steenkamp (Mtawarira 57), Strauss (du Plessis 61), Malherbe (Oosthuizen 37), Botha (Etzebeth 60), van der Merwe, Louw (Steyn 76), Alberts (Coetzee 41), Vermeulen.

Att: 49,278.
Referee: Jerome Garces (France).