Le Roux leads Boks to win over Scots
Gavin Rich
November 17, 2013

It took two moments of Willie le Roux magic to ensure that the Springboks capitalised on the blanketing first-half pressure they forced Scotland to play under and set themselves on the road to an emphatic 28-0 victory at Murrayfield.

For most of the day building up to the match it was clear over Edinburgh, but as sometimes happens in this part of the world, the clouds crept in stealthily and almost unnoticed, with the match played in a light drizzle and in heavy underfoot conditions that should have pleased coach Heyneke Meyer.

He had said he wanted to see if the players could sink or swim in the conditions, and while beforehand it looked as though he might have to take them to the harbour and throw them off a wharf if that was what he wanted, in the end he got what he needed.

And let it be said that man of the match Le Roux, supposedly carrying question marks over his ability to play in northern conditions, was one of the players who passed the test.

His two acts that led to tries close to each other just after the 30-minute mark to translate onfield dominance into scoreboard dominance and a 21-0 halftime lead, just put the seal on a complete allround performance that also included a good take of a high ball under pressure that turned defence into attack not long before he got into the try-scoring act himself.

The first try he scored himself and was a cruel irony if you were Scottish. It came when the Scots were making their first foray into Bok territory in the match, with a wild pass in the build-up being pouched by Le Roux, who ran two lengths of the field to score.

There is always an element of luck to an intercept, but the next act was the product of more ingenuity.

Again Le Roux struck from well inside his half, this time wrong-footing Scottish defenders with a little feint to the right before using his pace to surge beyond the halfway.

When finally there were Scotland defenders converging, Le Roux put the ball onto his left foot and JP Pietersen was over in the right corner.

Pietersen felt he was rusty in Cardiff last week but was a lot sharper in this game, as was Jaque Fourie, who was far more prominent in an attacking role than he had been down south eight days earlier.


All of them can still improve further, even Fourie du Preez, who continues to mix moments of sloppiness with his touches of brilliance, but they should be pleased with the progress made ahead of next week’s clash with France on the other side of the English Channel.

The statistics up to the half-hour mark made interesting reading in that Jean de Villiers’ team were comprehensively superior in every aspect of play, with a strong performance from the lineout ensuring that the hosts had hardly any ball to play with.

After 12 minutes there was a stat that reflected a 20-0 dominance for the South Africans when it came to taking the ball across the gainline, and later the tackle count was 60 against eight.

And yet somehow until that point the Scots managed to bring enough tenacity to their defensive game, and the Boks enough sloppiness to aspects of their attacking game, for the score to only read 7-0.

That opening try had come courtesy of a Willem Alberts dot down off a lineout drive that was set up off a penalty that brought to an end a continuous period of Bok ball-carrying that lasted from the first kick-off to into the fourth minute of the game.

It was a powerful start from the South Africans, with strong ball carries from the Bok big men ensuring that almost all of the early part of the game was played in Scottish territory.

Indeed, the playing surface at halftime, which was as tatty as Millennium Stadium had been the previous week, accurately told the story of the Bok ascendancy, with the Scottish side of halfway churned up like a horse paddock in the rainy season, while there was hardly a clod in evidence beyond the 10-metre line in the South African half.

The only time the Scots got into the South African 22-metre area in that first 40 minutes was in fact in the last minute of the half, when a penalty enabled them to set up an attacking line-out.

But the hosts kept in character with their error-ridden first half by passing the ball directly into touch, much to the derisive sarcasm of sections of their supporters.

Bakkies Botha, on the field to near the half-hour mark, was another returnee to the green and gold who should feel relatively pleased with his effort, and he was part of a pack that drove incessantly and powerfully.

Behind that pack, Patrick Lambie couldn’t do much wrong, and delivered a solid performance as the general in allround play.

He would have been disappointed with his miss from an easily kickable position when for once De Villiers elected to kick for posts rather than for the corner flag, but he atoned by slotting some in difficult conditions.

His tactical kicking was mostly pinpoint, as was his decision-making.

The difficult underfoot conditions – the ground was both heavy and breaking up – again made scrumming difficult and the forwards will be hoping that those won’t be the conditions that are replicated when they come back in this direction two years from now for the World Cup.

There hadn’t been many scrums set (the first was in the 12th minute) when Frans Malherbe came off injured and was replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen, who celebrated a strong, robust performance by dotting down the driving maul that was the only South African score of a second half that wasn’t quite as dominant as the first.

But the Bok job of winning this match had been done by then.

They may be concerned that the Scots were able to command 70% of the possession after halftime, and also enjoyed more of the match territorially, but in their defence, they played 10 minutes a man down after Marcell Coetzee was yellow-carded for not rolling away.

The one down point on the night was the injury sustained by openside flanker Francois Louw in a collision shortly before the end that forced the Bath player to be stretchered from the field.

On a day when the Boks had passed their litmus test at the breakdowns, where they were completely dominant in the first hour, it was the last thing the Boks need as they go into their final week of the rugby year.


SOUTH AFRICA – Tries: Willem Alberts, Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Coenie Oosthuizen. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (4).

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