South Africa vs. Scotland: Score and Lessons Learned from Port Elizabeth Test
South Africa vs Scotland was expected to be a one-sided affair, and after 16 minutes this interpretation seemed beyond debate. The Springboks were 19-3 up by this point, after adding their first score inside four minutes.
Despite a Scottish stabilisation in the period approaching half-time, South Africa rarely seemed truly troubled.
When Tim Swinson was sin-binned for holding a player off the ball, the Springboks kicked on again. South Africa scored two tries in their time against 14 men, enjoying the open spaces available.
Scotland's return to their full complement did not stop the flow of Springbok attacks. Lwazi Mvovo added his second try, and Lood de Jager completed his own brace, to stretch the margin to 49 points. The 55-6 scoreline confirmed the South African dominance and Scotland's lack of cutting edge.
Slow Scottish Start
You need to start quickly to give yourself a chance of beating South Africa. Wales did just that last week against the Springboks, giving themselves a 17-0 lead. However, even this did not prove enough to keep the South Africans at bay.
Scotland made no such quick start. The tourists were 19-3 down after just 16 minutes. The Scots fought back well in the latter stages of the half, but did little to dent the South African margin.
Chasing the play against the Springboks is a dangerous ploy. South Africa boast rampant runners like Willie Le Roux, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo. These players have the ability to exploit errors and open spaces.
Scotland Pay the Penalty
Scotland battled well after their slow start, but their efforts were often undone by their high penalty count. This allowed the Springboks to gain easy territory through kicks to the corner. This also allowed them to unleash their rampant driving maul, which was the thorn in the side of Wales last week.
South Africa's first try after half-time was the result of just such a maul. Flanker Marcell Coetzee capped off the forward shove for the five-point score. This followed another breach of discipline which saw lock Tim Swinson shown the yellow card.
While cards perhaps cost Wales victory last week, yellows only added to the misery of the Scottish tourists in Port Elizabeth. JP Pietsersen added a second score during their window with a man advantage.
Once the yellow card re-opened the door for South Africa, the Scots were unable to shut it. The tries kept on coming, eight in total, and the 50 point milestone was achieved.
Le Roux on Song
Willie Le Roux versus Stuart Hogg was expected to be an entertaining battle before the game. The reality was not far wrong. Le Roux and South Africa started well—the Springbok full-back adding one of their three tries in the first 16 minutes.
After that point though, Scotland managed to steady themselves. South Africa were pressurised without being panicked by the Scottish resurgence. Scotland's best chance of conjuring a try seemed to be through the attacking intent of Stuart Hogg.
Hogg's performance was the best of a bad bunch for Scotland on a day where they were totally outclassed. Le Roux's display was further evidence of a full-back cementing a position at the top of the world game.
Two Differing Debuts
South Africa vs. Scotland proved to be a game of two contrasting debuts. No. 8 Adam Ashe was brought into the Scotland side, having yet to play a senior game at club level.
The Springbok debutant, Handre Pollard, made his international bow with rather more in the way of international pedigree. The 20-year-old Bulls fly-half won the 2014 Young Player of the Year Award, following his performances in the u20 World Cup.
Adam Ashe found himself faced with one of the best back-rows in the world game. This was a Springbok unit that afforded Pollard something of an armchair ride on his full international debut. His first kick was under the posts after Marcell Coetzee's first try. His task didn't gain much in difficulty from this point.
Pollard finished the game with 13 points from the kicking tee. Ashe finished on the wrong end of a 55-6 drubbing.
Springbok Physicality Unstoppable
The Springboks are a side renowned for their uncompromising physicality. The hard, destructive force of their forward pack gives them front-foot ball and grinds defences to pieces.
This was not a full-strength South African side but the unrelenting physicality remained present for all to see. Scotland's three previous tour games against USA, Canada and an under-strength Argentina could not prepare them for the all-out Springbok affront.
Scotland battled well at the set-piece but the game was lost on the gainline. After an unconvincing, but unbeaten, summer tour, Vern Cotter's side finish on a heavy loss. For an inexperienced Scottish side, this Test proved to be one too far. Scotland's wait for success in South Africa continues.