Bravery won’t stop the Boks

2013-06-15 00:00

SCOTLAND will be brave, but it will not be enough to stop the born-again Springboks romping to victory in their Incoming Series Test at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit this evening.

Scotland, unable to cope with Samoa’s muscular approach on both attack and defence, went down 27-17 at King’s Park last Saturday. It was the first loss in their history to Samoa and the head-on collision with the South Sea islanders sent more than half their side to the medical room.

The Scots, already without their four best players, who are in Australia with the British Lions, have had to change seven of their team for today.

Scotland coach Scott Johnson admitted yesterday his team were severely depleted.

“We are sore, bumped and bruised. I’ve never seen an injury toll like it. Our depth is being stretched,” Johnson said.

He said the Springboks had chosen a “quick team”.

“They are showing their intent and they have the skill set to do that.”

The Springboks have scoffed at the suggestion that coach Heyneke Meyer has embraced a new style. But just the one selection — the creative Willie le Roux ahead of Zane Kirchner at fullback — has changed the mind-set of the players. The Springboks in the recent past have laid such a heavy emphasis on the territory game that fullbacks have been reluctant to run from deep and have relied on a safety-first kicking game.

But Le Roux, with permission from his coach to play his own game, looks to attack first and kick second and this has rubbed off on his fellow-backs: Bryan Habana, Bjorn Basson and J.J. Engelbrecht.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said yesterday that the players want to build on their performance against Italy last Saturday.

“Nothing has changed for us from a game-plan point of view. It is just identifying the space and getting the ball into that space.

“We did that well last week and the decision making was much better.”

The Scots had the edge in territory and possession against Samoa, but could not match them in the collisions. The Springboks will be as physical as the Samoans, but they will also be stronger and better organised than them in the set pieces and the Scots will be tested across the park.

The Springboks, with just two changes, should also be more settled than they were at King’s Park. They will miss flank Francois Louw’s fetching ability at the breakdown and Meyer has already said he is looking for replacement Marcell Coetzee to improve his work at the breakdown.

The most obvious threat to the Springboks today is complacency, a feeling that all they have to do is take the field and start scoring tries. But if, in the words of former Springbok coach Ian McIntosh, they first play themselves in before trying to hit sixes, then they will win this game by some distance.

The Scots, written off by friend and foe, will come out snorting, determined to shake a confident Bok outfit. But energy and commitment will take them only so far, and the quality and pace of the Springboks should prevail after a fiery opening quarter.

The Scots, on cold, wet days at Murrayfield, have troubled and beaten the Springboks in the recent years. But that is all in the past and a far cry from what they will bump today — a hot, dry day in Nel­spruit and a South African team playing with a spring in their step.


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, J.J. Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Piet van Zyl, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Scotland: Peter Murchie, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw, Johnnie Beattie, Ryan Wilson, Alasdair Strokosch, Jim Hamilton, Tim Swinson, Euan Murray, Scott Lawson, Alasdair Dickinson.

Replacements: Stevie Lawrie, Jon Welsh, Moray Low, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pygros, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor.

Referee: Roman Poite (France). Kick-off: 5.15 pm. Curtain-raiser: Italy vs Samoa: Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA). Kick-off: 2.15 pm.


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