Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Rugby | Springboks

Payback time for Boks



Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said something this week that should be regarded as a chilling warning to Scotland ahead of Saturday’s Castle Lager Incoming Series clash at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

“The Springboks don’t have a good record against Scotland.” That’s what he said, and while it might not sound significant or like much of a warning, it does tell us one thing – the past few performances by the Springboks at Murrayfield, and the way the Scots pushed the South Africans on their home ground, have not been forgotten.

Indeed, starting with the defeat in Edinburgh in 2002, the Scots have been able to get away with being quite uppity against the Boks, and even when they toured this country in 2003 and 2006 they weren’t dispatched with quite the ease that many thought they would be.

The last mentioned series will be recalled for the injury suffered by Schalk Burger that ruled him out of rugby for the rest of that year.

But the dry heat of Nelspruit – it has been hot during the day here this week – is a far cry from the cold and damp of Edinburgh, factors that certainly conspired in the Scottish favour when they beat Peter de Villiers’s Boks in 2010.

And Meyer’s about-turn on his stated intention to spread the net in the first two games by sticking largely with the team that was mostly impressive against Italy last week will not help Scotland.

The Boks will start with more continuity than they enjoyed last week in Durban, and if they hit the match running, they could win by a big score that will serve as a resounding payback for the humiliations suffered on the other side of the equator down the years.

IMPRESSIVE FORM

The Scots have some players who might hurt the Boks if they got dragged down to their level at Murrayfield, but not in South African conditions, and a repeat of the woeful defence we saw in their match against Samoa at Kings Park last Saturday would only mean one thing for the Scots – and the word that comes to mind is annihilation.

The Scots suffered their first ever defeat to the island team in 10 starts in that match, but what should disturb them most is that they lost the game by 10 points while dominating both possession and territory for most of the way. What will become of them in a game where they are shaded in the battle for possession, which is likely in this match.

With the exception of the absence of Francois Louw, who is getting married, the pack is the same one that was good in the first and last quarters against Italy, with much of the focus on Marcell Coetzee, who replaces Louw and will be on trial to prove that he can fulfill the role of specialist fetcher and thus earmark himself as Louw’s back-up at No 6 moving forward.

With Duane Vermeulen out with a long-term injury there does need to be more focus on the breakdown skills of the South African loose-forwards as Louw and Vermeulen played towards the ball as a pair last year. If nothing else, the game against the Scots will show us how the Boks will go without both of the former Stormers teammates playing.

At the back there was a lot of confidence and pace on display last week, and maybe Meyer was surprised at what the mix produced. It could explain why he changed his mind about the changes he intended making for this fixture and which he was quite clear about 10 days ago.

Only time will tell whether Meyer will be prepared to play all the players turning out against Scotland when the real deal of the Castle Rugby Championship arrives. He may well decide that Willie le Roux remains too risky – something he was sure about six weeks ago – for a test against New Zealand.

But another strong performance from Le Roux and the impressive and pacy JJ Engelbrecht will do them no harm and further boost confidence, while Bryan Habana’s impressive form should continue against a Scotland team that should find the Bok pace out wide way too much of a handful.

The Scots have made seven changes from the side that lost last week, and a few of those have been because of injuries.

The Scots were already depleted when they flew out to South Africa, so the loss of front-rankers Geoff Cross and Pat MacArthur, plus now last week’s skipper Kelly Brown, will hurt them. The Boks should hurt them too and anything less than a comprehensive victory will be beneath the home expectations.

TEAMS

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Juandre 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: 5:15pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
Prediction: Boks by 30.



Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Latest Video Highlights

Fri, 22 May
Fri, 22 May
Fri, 22 May
Thu, 21 May

Sports Talk



Kyle Brown
Bloodied but unbowed
It will take a bit of time for the pain to settle and for us to realise that the sun will rise...

Tony Johnson
Some accountability at last
The fact that Sanzar has responded to some shoddy refereeing over the weekend is good. We have some...

Brendan Venter
Success determined by injury list
As we approach the business end of the Super Rugby season, I believe that the team which has their...

Brenden Nel
Where is the Blitz in these Boks?
The spectacular implosion by the Blitzboks to hand their World Series lead – and then the title –...

Gavin Rich
Relax, the World Cup isn't won in May
It’s been a long time since a Super Rugby weekend has been so abjectly poor for South Africans, and...

Super Wrap
SuperWrap: Week 14, 2015
An optimist will look at a glass of water and call it half-full. A pessimist will look at that same...