Overwhelming Bok power

2013-11-18 00:00

THE power of their intimidating pack, and two minutes of magic from fullback Willie le Roux, carried the Springboks to a decisive 28-0 win over Scotland at Murrayfield last night.

The Springboks dominated the first half, running in three tries with man-of-the-match Le Roux scoring one and creating a second for wing JP Pietersen.

The South Africans lost their rhythm after the break, but the major concern was the injury suffered by flank Francois Louw, a key member of the pack, with five minutes remaining. Prop Frans Malherbe and flank Willem Alberts also left the field with injuries.

A vulnerable Louw, cynically taken out by Scotland’s Scott Hamilton at a ruck, appeared to suffer whiplash as he was caught by the lock’s shoulder and he was stretchered off the field.

Coach Heyneke Meyer said late last night that the injury did not appear to be serious, but that Malherbe (rib cartilage) would almost certainly miss the Test against France on Saturday. “Francois was put on a stretcher as a precaution, but I am told he will be fine. There was concern about Willem’s shoulder. He was doubtful for this game, and we brought him off early to protect that injury. He should also be fine for Paris.”

Meyer was delighted with the win.

“We will take four tries to nil in a Test match any day. We wanted to put pressure on them early because we expected it to rain in the second half.

“This is a happy squad, and the character and team spirit was shown again in the last few minutes when we did a lot of defending.”

The Springbok performance was controlled and clinical and they were never seriously threatened by the brave but limited Scots.

The Boks took charge from the kick-off and a clever variation of their lineout drive after four minutes resulted in flank Alberts scoring. The South Africans hogged possession in the opening quarter, bashing away at the Scots, who lost six of their own lineouts, but stood up impressively in defence and made 50 tackles to the Boks’ nine.

The match as a contest was effectively ended after half-an-hour when Scotland, making a rare sortie on attack, dropped the ball and Le Roux ran 60 metres to score (14-0). The Springbok fullback immediately popped up from the kick-off, slicing through the porous Scottish midfield defence inside his own half and then showing remarkable vision by kicking to the corner where Pietersen picked up and scored.

Pat Lambie, from the touchline, added a third conversion and the Boks were 21-0 ahead at the break.

Scotland, solving their lineout woes, improved markedly in the second half, dominating possession and territory, but they could do little with it and made little headway against the organised Bok defence while their handling, in the wet conditions, also suffered under the heavy tackling.

The Boks came away on the counter after 53 minutes, repeated their lineout ploy and Coenie Oosthuizen, a replacement for Malherbe, scored with Lambie again converting from an angle (28-0).

The Springboks will be concerned that they were unable to build on their first-half display — replacement hooker Bismarck du Plessis missed his jumpers at four successive lineouts in the closing quarter — and they were frequently penalised by referee Jerome Garces at the breakdown.

The Frenchman also yellow-carded replacement flank Marcell Coztee for a marginal high tackle after 70 minutes. The Boks, with only 14 men on the field, and substitute flyhalf Morné Steyn — the last man on the bench — on for the injured Louw for the last five minutes, still ensured that Scotland were whitewashed.

Number eight Duane Vermeulen was the pick of the forwards, Alberts had a strong first half, flyhalf Lambie was workmanlike and solid and Pietersen, celebrating his 50th Test, showed some of his old power and verve on the wing.

It may sound like carping after they outscored the Scots 4-0 in tries, but there will be concern that the Springboks, with all their experience and backline talent, did not create more out wide.

Scorers

South Africa - Tries: Willem Alberts, Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Coenie Oosthuizen. Conversions: Pat Lambie (4).

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