Scotland 15 -30 South Africa

Ruthlessness characterised South Africa’s victory at BT Murrayfield this afternoon. Trailing at the interval the world champions upped the ante in the second period, which they dominated 5-22 on the scoreboard and were utterly relentless in the forward exchanges, to maintain their 11-year unbeaten record against Scotland.

There was nothing surprising about South Africa’s approach: the habitual dose of massive physicality and mercifully some lovely running skills too from Damian De Allende and the supremely balanced footwork of Makazole Mapimpi, who had a glorious brace of tries.

Ultimately Scotland did not seize very opportunity that came their way and to eclipse the very best that will always be required.

The ability to repulse wave after wave of South African attacks in the first period was satisfying and so was the finesse with which Stuart Hogg drew level with Tony Stanger and the original Flying Scot Ian Smith at the top of Scotland’s all-time try scoring charts with 24.

But the fact the try count was level at two apiece and South Africa’s winning margin was by five of their six penalty goals told you much about how the contest unfolded.

BT Murrayfield marked Remembrance and then members of the Royal Marines Reserve from Rosyth abseiled from the roof of the West Stand before Scotland all-time great Tom Smith, accompanied by his sons Angus and Teddy and his daughter Amelie, delivered the match ball. Tom had earlier been inducted into the Scottish Rugby Hall of Fame.

It was fair to say emotions were running high!

Scotland kicked off towards the railway end and there was instant invention at the game’s first lineout but a knock on 30 metres out set up the game’s first scrum at which the penalty was awarded to the visitors.

Another penalty established a South African lineout inside the home 22 from which they went through 14 phases before referee Angus Gardner signalled another penalty to South Africa. They opted for the touchline and Sam Skinner won against the throw to enable Scotland to escape.

Signs at the early scrums were ominous as a huge surge bequeathed the Springboks their fourth penalty of the opening ten minutes but from close to half-way they opted again to go for lineout.

Pierre Schoeman had ripped ball after Scotland had stood up Eben Etzebeth in a tackle but Mr Gardner then penalised Scotland for not releasing. Time to defend another close-range lineout.

That Scotland did and with a turnover eventually secured, the ball that came Finn Russell’s way was not the tidiest. Time to play, however. He unleashed Duhan Van Der Merwe who thundered towards the halfway line. South Africa loitered at the breakdown and the penalty was advanced ten metres for Russell to give Scotland the lead (3-0, 17 mins).

Scotland then fiercely pursued an Ali Price box kick which was pouched by Willie Le Roux. Jamie Ritchie was there in a flash and in the perfect position over ball for Scotland to win the penalty. Russell’s attempt at goal, however, drifted wide.

Another scrum in the shadow of the East Stand saw South Africa awarded another penalty. The now familiar pattern, a lineout around the Scotland 22 and then to the breakdown. The penalty against Ritchie seemed harsh to your correspondent but it enabled Elton Jantjies to level (3-3, 23 mins).

South Africa then took the lead for the first time. From a ruck around half-way, they attacked left with De Allende and Siya Kolisi the links for Mapimpi to evade Rufus McLean’s tackle on the outside and romp home for a very fine try. Elton Jantjies missed the conversion (3-8, 27 mins).

Scotland’s response took a wee bit of time to come to the boil but then it did in Vesuvius manner!

Russell had already delivered one cross-field kick to Van Der Merwe earlier in the move. Second time around the winger found space on the outside, unleashing the intruding Hogg from full-back. Skinner was in support and his pass out wide to Van Der Merwe interested the TMO but ultimately it was ruled ok. Chris Harris then thumped on and his inside pass eluded both Price and his South African opposite number Herschel Jantjies for Hogg to gather and blaze in for his 23rd try for Scotland! Russell converted to give the hosts the lead anew (10-8, 36 mins).

In first half injury time, Russell’s close-range penalty to the right of the posts was pushed wide to end a pulsating first-half.

Half-time: Scotland 10-8 South Africa

South Africa hit back within a couple of minutes of the restart. Van Der Merwe was dispossessed by Kwagga Smith on the right and then the visitors worked ball left for De Allende to make a searing break and release the fleet-footed Mapimpi for his second try. Jantjies converted. (10-15, 43 mins).

Jantjies then was on target with a penalty in front of the posts for a high tackle (10-18, 50 mins).

South Africa were very much in the ascendancy at this point as Scotland simply could not sustain possession and a penalty against Chris Harris who was deemed to have obstructed South African chasers to a high kick, compounded difficulties.

Another offence closer to the posts saw Jantjies extend their lead (10-21, 54 mins).

A high tackle penalty against Lukhanyo Am on Price saw Scotland look to the touchline. Grant Gilchrist won the ball and Stuart McInally lined up for a characteristic maul drive.

Instead, ball was worked out by Price to Matt Scott, Russell was on his shoulder then Van Der Merwe arced before Hogg raced on a wider line still to score another cracking try. Russell missed the conversion (15-21, 58 mins).

Hogg’s next contribution was to hoof the ball deep into South African territory and substitute Blair Kinghorn’s chase earned Scotland a penalty, but the lineout was won against the throw and momentum was dashed. It was to prove something of a turning point.

Handre Pollard who had joined the fray misfired with a penalty but when Zander Fagerson was pinged for holding on in the tackle, the substitute stand-off did not make the same error (15-24, 68 mins).

The penalty count was mounting against the hosts and when Skinner was deemed guilty in contact Frans Steyn stepped up to land South Africa’s fifth successful penalty (15-27, 71 mins).

Pollard then goaled another penalty from a scrum (15-30, 75 mins).

Full time: Scotland 15-30 South Africa

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN; Rufus McLean (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby), Matt Scott (Leicester Tigers), Duhan Van Der Merwe (Worcester Warriors); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally (both Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Jamie Ritchie (all Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) for McInally (61 mins), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) for Schoeman (61 mins), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) for Zander Fagerson (68 mins), Jamie Hodgson (Edinburgh Rugby) for Skinner (72 mins), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) for Haining (51 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Price (72 mins), Adam Hastings (Gloucester Rugby) for Scott (72 mins), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) for McLean (51 mins).

South Africa: Willie Le Roux; Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian De Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trever Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi CAPTAIN, Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen.

Subs: Malcolm Marx for Nche (40 mins), Steven Kitshoff for Mbonambi (40 mins), Vincent Koch for Nyakane (40 mins), Lood de Jager for Mostert (61 mins), Jasper Wiese for Vermeulen (74 mins), Cobus Reinach, for Herschel Jantjies (40 mins), Handre Pollard for Elton Jantjies (59 mins), Frans Steyn for Le Roux (64 mins).

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia); Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England) and Craig Evans (Wales); TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia).

Attendance: 67,144

Deliveroo Player of the Match: Eben Etzebeth (South Africa).

live commentary 1:00 PM Saturday 13 Nov 2021

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