Boks wallop outclassed Scots

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Scotland the Brave turned to Scotland the Battered as the Springboks put on an eight try blitz to record a comprehensive 55-6 victory and end their Castle Lager Incoming Series in style at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

It may have been the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn – one of Scotland’s most famous victories over the English, but there was little bravery as the Springboks used their size, power and prowess to tick all the boxes they needed, reports Brenden Nel.

In the 1314 battle, the smaller Scottish army defeated a larger British contingent, earning them the tag of Scotland the Brave, but on a warm winter's night in The Bay, the home side went out to prove once again that winning the collision battle is a prerequisite for success at this level.

To be honest while the Scots tried hard, they were hopelessly outmatched, and you have to wonder how a mismatch of these proportions is good for Scottish rugby, never mind whether it is good for the game as a whole?

For the Boks it served a purpose. With 25 players out of action through injury and a ruling that some players needed to return to their clubs, this was an opportunity to test the young reserves in the Green and Gold and take stock of the next tier of players.

And where there were opportunities to impress, a number of players certainly didn’t disappoint.

The supremely talented IRB Junior Player of the year, Handre Pollard, certainly left his mark, attacking the line with his first touch of the ball and showing an array of skills that underline why he is so highly rated by the Bok coaching staff.

To think that Pollard showed more attacking flair in his first game than any flyhalf in the last six years, says a lot about how the kicking game has dominated the Boks' play during that period.

For a player making his debut he looked confident, sharp and dangerous, providing a perfect link between his backline and controlling play with relative ease.

Of course this was a Scottish side dominated on the day, and Pollard had a plethora of ball to work his magic, and while he is certainly to face stronger defences and be put under more pressure, he showed more than enough to warrant the selection.

And then there were others. Marcel Coetzee, Lood de Jager and Lwazi Mvovo all scored two tries each, but it was in the general play that they reminded Meyer that they will certainly be looking for more game time in the future.

Few will forget De Jager’s loping 40 metre run for his first try, while Coetzee terrorised the Scottish attackers when they went to ground.

Add to this memorable performances by JP Pietersen, Cornal Hendricks, Victor Matfield and Duane Vermeulen and it show just how happy a changeroom it is at the moment.

That said, the Bok coaching staff won't be entirely happy with the team's performance and the game also highlighted enough things to work on.

The Boks struggled in the scrums, were beaten at the breakdown at times and especially in the second quarter got too loose for their own liking and squandered attacking opportunities.

Against stronger teams this may become an issue, but with a scoreline like this the positives by far outweigh the negatives on the night.

The Boks blitzed the Scots so early that the result was never an issue, especially as Coetzee forced his way over early.

The next two tries worked exceptionally well for the Boks, with the perfect service of Fourie du Preez and some great passes sending Willie le Roux and Mvovo over the line for a 19-3 lead after just 17 minutes.

But then the Scots tightened up their defence, used the ball they got well and kept the Boks out for the rest of the half. From the firework beginning it was anticlimactic as the Scots fought to stay in the game.

The Boks looked better in the second half, but it took a yellow for Scottish lock Jonny Gray to turn the tide firmly in the Boks' favour.

Coetzee went over from a lineout drive shortly after the card, while a strong run from Vermeulen started a run that was finished in style by Pietersen with two Scots trying to stop him as he went over the line.

Mvovo grabbed his second with a perfect intercept, leading to a 50-metre run against a ragged-looking Scottish defence before another Scottish mistake led to more points for the home side. This time Weir dropped an up and under and the ball landed perfectly for Coetzee to snatch it up and send the giant De Jager over for his try.

De Jager grabbed a second shortly before the end to underline a superb victory on the night, and give the Boks reason to smile.

And while they will enjoy the moment, the Boks know their next assignment – the Castle Rugby Championship – will by far be more difficult and more intense.

But for the moment the health of Springbok rugby looks good, and if injuries weren’t a factor, Meyer would have a strong squad to pick from.

South Africa - Tries: Marcell Coetzee (2), Wille le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo (2), JP Pietersen, Lood de Jager (2). Conversions: Handre Pollard (5), Marnitz Boshoff. Penalty: Handre Pollard.
Scotland - Penalties: Duncan Weir (2).

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Jun 29, 2014
Handre Pollard

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