Two tries by Adriaan Strauss and a superb defensive effort was the difference between South Africa and Scotland at a very cold Murrayfield as the Springboks avenged the 2010 defeat with a 21-10 victory on Saturday afternoon.
In the first half, Strauss crashed over after a perfectly worked line-out maul and early in the second half he sprinted almost 50m after an intercept to put the Boks ahead by 21-3. Thereafter Scotland fought back well as the South Africans struggled to get their hands on the ball following a string of penalties against them.
The Bok pack laid the foundation, but for the last half hour, their defence held firm, with the Scots crossing only once, from a line-out move close to the SA tryline. The Boks were brilliant in the loose and at the breakdowns, with Francois Louw leading the charge and his fellow loosies, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen, not far behind.
It was a good win against a side that beat the Boks the last time they met, in 2010, and who were too good against the Wallabies in Australia earlier this year. In 2008, the Boks scraped home 14-10 at Murrayfield.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he was happy with the result and the defensive effort, but that he wanted more from his team, especially in the second half.
“I was not entirely satisfied with our play in the second half,” said Meyer.
“I thought we played tactically well in the first and the plan was to build an innings in the second half. We were in control, but we conceded too many penalties, especially at the scrums, which broke our momentum.
“But I’m happy with the defence, which was awesome. Also it has been a long season for most of the players and in the second half you could see they just weren’t there. We’ll take the win – it was ugly, but that’s how you win trophies, especially the World Cup.”
Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers also praised his team’s defence in the second half: “Defence is not something you can coach entirely. It comes from within and the attitude you show there reflects your attitude towards the team and its cause.
“That’s why I was pleased. A lot was said last week when Scotland scored three tries against New Zealand, and we managed to restrict them to one. I think it is something that is sustainable. As long as that is there I’m optimistic about the future.”
Apart from Strauss’ two tries – his first and second in Test rugby – Pat Lambie added 11 points with the boot through three penalty goals and one conversion. He only missed one kick at goal.