Springboks all at sea in the wet

2010-11-22 00:00

SCOTLAND were brave but limited, the weather was grim and the referee confusing, but that was all overshadowed by the woeful Springboks who lost 21-17 at Murrayfield on Saturday evening.

Tactically and technically inept, the Springboks played so little rugby on the evening that they did not deserve to win. After dodging defeat against Ireland and Wales, they were finally pinned down in the wet of Murrayfield where their poor kick-and-chase game, their lack of a coherent game plan and their random late substitutions were punished by defeat.

The dream of a grand slam tour of Britain and Ireland to end a nightmare season has vanished. Buoyant England will be waiting at Twickenham and Bok coach Peter de Villiers again finds himself under massive pressure.

The Springboks will blame the steady rain for the limp, sterile display, but they took the Irish to pieces in wet conditions in Dublin where their strong, ball-carrying forwards and their lineout dominated.

But at Murrayfield, after starting promisingly, they lost all their direction and their scrumhalves, first Francois Hougaard and then Ruan Pienaar, obviously playing to instructions, kicked away valuable possession.

And when they did find some attacking momentum in the second half, they were quickly brought back by inconsistent Australian referee Stuart Dickinson, who went against the norm and kept penalising their tackled player.

Adding to their problems, and for the first time on tour, Victor Matfield and his chums had lineout problems and Bismarck du Plessis missed his jumpers with four successive throws in the second half. Indeed the only try of the Test came when the Bok hooker tossed the ball over Matfield and an alert Willem Alberts responded quickly to drive over.

Pat Lambie, again on the field for the closing quarter when he had all the pressure but no possession, missed the relatively easy conversion and the Boks — at 21-17 — still had to score a try in the final minutes to win. They never came close again and they finally lost to seven Dan Park kicks (six penalties and a drop) to Morné Steyn’s four penalties and Alberts’ try.

“It’s tough. We were probably under pressure,” coach Peter de Villiers said. “Everyone wants us to play more expansively, but with the weather the way it was it didn’t allow us to.

“Scotland made use of it much better than us on the night so well done to them.”

The Scots could not believe what was happening. A week before they had spent most of their Saturday lining up behind the poles as the All Blacks thumped them 49-3, and here they were handing out a wet weather rugby lesson to the world champions.

“What a difference a week makes,” Robinson said. “The physicality was top drawer. We knocked them over; last week we let New Zealand run through us.

“They were tough conditions to play in — some people say they are Scottish conditions. I think the guys handled it very well.”

The Springboks clearly have the necessary talent, but it means nothing when it is untapped, when they are playing the wrong game, when they lack intensity and when they are badly coached.

The Boks started confidently, driving around the fringes and pressuring the Scots to win two early penalties which Morné Steyn goaled.

But that was as good as it got. They became progressively more ragged as they kicked away possession while Dickinson started nailing them at the breakdowns.

Parks booted them to a 12-9 up at the break and then had Scotland 21-12 ahead before bustling Alberts scored a late Bok try.

The Boks had few heroes on the day. The scrum was fairly secure, but the tight five failed to dominate. The loose forwards and backs saw precious little go-forward ball, and there was no cohesion on attack.

Debutant wing Lwazi Mvovo defended superbly, but had to go searching for a couple of chances to impress on attack while fullback Zane Kirchner had another uncomfortable outing and offered nothing on the counter.

Matfield, on the eve of the Test, asked for “attitude and accuracy” from his players. He got neither while the Springboks, playing as individuals, are strategically all at sea.

Scorers:

Scotland — Penalties: Parks (6). Drop goal: Parks.

South Africa - Try: Alberts. Pens: M. Steyn (4)

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