Cape Town – Despite numerous errors and a yellow card, the Springboks became the first side to beat Scotland at home this year with a tense 26-20 victory at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The Boks continued to be their own worst enemies with critical mistakes that Scotland fed and thrived off to stay in the game in the first quarter, when the Boks were well on top.
This was the Boks’ second win on tour and their sixth in a row over Scotland. Flyhalf Handré Pollard contributed 18 points from three penalties, two conversions and a try and gave one of his best displays this season.
The victory, while not pretty, was another notch in the belt for coach Rassie Erasmus’ building team and will give the coach some more breathing room with a seventh win in 13 matches this season.
The Bok pack was superb yet again with captain Siya Kolisi excellent in making crucial tackles while Malcolm Marx, Duane Vermeulen and Steven Kitshoff worked hard at the breakdown.
A yellow card for fullback Willie le Roux for a deliberate knock-on early in the second half didn’t derail the Boks but it was a game where the visitors didn’t make the most of their territorial advantage.
In a rollicking first half in perfect conditions both sides scored cracking tries although it was the Boks that made the most mistakes to keep Scotland in the match.
After Jesse Kriel opened the scoring after Handré Pollard carved his way through the Scottish defence, offloaded to Embrose Papier who did well to keep the ball alive. From the ensuing ruck Kriel hit the line at pace.
Scotland were on the back foot for much of the first quarter but the Springboks’ box kicking game was erratic and both Scotland’s first half tries came from capitalising on poorly executed kicks.
Centre Peter Horne was first over for the Scots, from what looked like a forward pass from midfield partner Huw Jones.
Referee Romain Poite had another look but felt there was enough compelling evidence to reverse his original decision.
Pollard scored his team’s second almost from the restart when he cut through some flimsy defence to re-establish a seven point buffer.
Pollard first penalty from close to halfway extended the lead to 10 points before Scotland struck again.
Bok wing S’bu Nkosi failed to take a Papier box kick and from the knock on the impressive Stuart Hogg scythed his way up the left hand touchline, hacked ahead and established a lineout five metres from the Bok line.
A well-worked routine from the throw allowed flank Hamish Watson to burst over the Bok line unopposed to keep the match on a knife’s edge.
A late Elton Jantjies penalty, after Pollard had missed two kicks in the second half, put some daylight between the sides and allowed the Boks to hold on for a win, Scorers:
Scotland 20 (17) South Africa 26 (20)
Scotland – Tries: Peter Horne, Hamish Watson. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalties: Laidlaw (2).
South Africa – Tries: Jesse Kriel, Handré Pollard. Conversions: Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (3), Elton Jantjies.