South Africa humiliate weary Scots

Date published: June 29 2014

A weakened Scotland side were thrashed 55-6 by South Africa in Port Elizabeth, as the Springboks stayed unbeaten in June.

A weakened Scotland side were thrashed 55-6 by South Africa in Port Elizabeth, as the Springboks stayed unbeaten in June.

Marcell Coetzee, Lwazi Mvovo and Lood de Jager all scored twice as South Africa ran in eight tries – avoiding the tense contest witnessed between these two sides in Nelspruit last year.

This was better from the Springboks – a final hit out against green opposition before the real business of The Rugby Championship begins on August 16.

Handing first starts to Handré Pollard and de Jager, with Schalk Burger starting his first Test since the last Rugby World Cup, the Boks were far from disjointed.

But once again consistent excellence evaded them, as South Africa played irresistibly in the opening 20 minutes and final half hour with Scottish defiance coming in between. Fourie du Preez's departure early in the first half was a sour note, with South Africa supporters praying the news on his injury is positive.

Flying out of the traps in the opening quarter and rejecting the chance to kick penalties, by the start of the second half Pollard was taking the points when on offer. It was a comprehensive win certainly, but by no means a perfect one.

Vern Cotter's fact-finding tour had previously yielded three wins, but naturally not against opposition of the same quality as the Springboks or with the Test experience of Victor Matfield's 112 caps.

The gulf in both quality and knowledge was enormous – bringing the purpose of the fixture into doubt apart from to appease those fans in the Eastern Cape. Putting the Scottish squad through a tour that has taken them to the USA, Canada, Argentina and now South Africa – for a Test outside the IRB window – at the end of a long season on reflection feels insane.

Their famed troubles at the breakdown, even with Chris Fusaro back in the saddle in the seven jersey, resurfaced to leave them flailing.

No side can win when the number of penalties against them at the breakdown mounts towards double figures. Tim Swinson's sin-binning in the second half had been a long time coming.

Criticised for not putting together an 80-minute performance so far in June, the opening salvo from the Springboks was all about getting their powerful carriers onto the ball at pace.

Rejecting the chance to go for the posts, quick ball and pure power helped Marcell Coetzee bust his way over for his first Test try.

The second wasn't far behind – Scotland's ill-discipline setting up South Africa in their half and following Jan Serfontein's carry up the middle, Pollard and JP Pietersen timed their passes to perfection in order for Willie le Roux to cross.

Conceding five penalties in the first ten minutes was an omen of the misery ahead for the Scots, as they continued to be manipulated and forced into rash actions at the breakdown.

South Africa's dominance was not purely based on power though. Pietersen's clever running and then perfectly weighted kick sat up for the Lwazi Mvovo, who won the race to touch down with a show of blinding pace for try number three after 15 minutes.

For all of their endeavour, there was nowhere for Scotland's runners to go against a brick wall defence from their hosts.

Halting the flow of points by the home side was an achievement as Weir added a second penalty, South Africa ahead 19-6 at the break.

Coenie Oosthuizen should have thrived in the absence of Gurthrö Steenkamp and Tendai Mtawarira, but he laboured at scrum time up against Geoff Cross.

Pollard scored his first penalty in Test rugby after an idiotic act in defence from Ross Ford cancelled out the previous disciplined hard work in defence, with the young Bulls fly-half still easing his way into rugby at the highest level.

Scotland in fact grew in stature, forcing the Springboks to compete, but their persistent infringements couldn't continue without punishment.

Swinson was binned and down to 14 men defending a line-out on their own line, they couldn't stop what is becoming, a trademark, unstoppable maul from South Africa. Coetzee was the man to dot down for his second try.

Pietersen's fine finish in the corner, evading the tackle of Stuart Hogg, followed by Mvovo's interception score as he latched onto an atrocious pass from Henry Prygos brought up the fifth and sixth tries of the night. Not that the Boks were done.

De Jager's rambling carry was too fast and too strong for the Scottish defence to get back and stop the young giant on his gallop to the line.

Emptying the bench meant the Boks handed more debuts out to Stephan Lewies and Marnitz Boshoff, with de Jager having enough time to score again, capping a brilliant performance to the delight of a boisterous crowd. He was unlucky not to win Man of the Match.

Simple, impressive stuff from the Springboks, whose strength in depth shone through. Aside from the experience of a ruthless hiding, it's difficult to see what Scotland will have learned.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Coetzee 2, le Roux, Mvovo 2, Pietersen, De Jager 2
Cons: Pollard 5, Boshoff
Pen: Pollard

For Scotland:
Pens: Weir 2
Yellow Card: Swinson

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Kevin Bryce, 17 Moray Low, 18 Euan Murray, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Dougie Fife, 23 Peter Murchie

Referee: Glen Jackson (NZ)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (Fra), Marius Mitrea (Ita)
TMO: Glenn Newman (NZ)

by Ben Coles