Preview: Scotland v South Africa

Fri, 16 Nov 2012 05:34
Large kelly brown scotland 630 Large jean de villiers boks ball Large richie gray scotland2 630 Large eben etzebeth tackle bag 63 Large richie gray scotland 630 Large ruan pienaar boks train Large timvisserscotlandtry Large juan de jongh boks ball 630

Scotland matches against South Africa always stir up memories of the famous Murrayfield massacre.

Say in one breath Springbok Scotland, Murrayfield, and your next breath will say 44-0, and somebody will add: 'Aye and we were lucky to get the nil.'

That is a part of South African rugby's folk history. History, it is said, repeats itself. That bit has not repeated itself, and it will not repeat itself this Saturday either.

The 44-0 team of 1951 scored nine tries, seven by forwards. The forwards' tries were not ponderous, mauling things but flowing, pass-before-contact stuff by athletes. It was a great feat, a world record at the time.

The present Springboks will not be able to replicate that.

They will not be able to replicate it because the Scots will also be different - fitter, more cohesive with the defensive patterns that professional rugby finds so valuable.

Historically Scotland have done better than Ireland and Wales against South Africa, and they won the last encounter at Murrayfield, though they did not score a try to do so. It seems that the weather will be much, much better than it was two years ago - not Highveld crisp, not dive-into-the-sea stuff but rain free.

The All Blacks gave the Scots a hiding last week but the Scots scored three tries against them. Three tries against the All Blacks! That's a feat.

It suggests that they will play and do so constructively against the Springboks. And their forwards will not kowtow. In fact they could well have the better of the ruck game.

If only the Springbok backs could forsake their disjointed  method of play and find some flow, we could have an exciting match.

Players to Watch:

For Scotland: You will see Richie Gray with his mop of hair and great energy. He is likely to want the ball to thump ahead with. Stuart Hogg has attacking potential which rather faded into obscurity against the All Blacks.

For South Africa: This time the Springboks have only one player out of position - François Hougaard who plays on the left wing though he is not one. This time there is an outside centre at outside centre and one raring to run with the ball - Juan de Jongh with the mesmerising feet. It would be good if he also remembered to pass the ball, especially to JP Pietersen who could just have a great game. In the forwards there are young giant even Etzebeth, grafting flank Francois Louw and strong farmboy-turned-doctor Jannie du Plessis at tighthead.

Head to Head:  There are two strong, young South Africans against each other at No.8 - David Denton for Scotland and Duane Vermeulen for South Africa. At least at the line-outs there could be a good battle between Gray and Etzebeth who beat Ireland last Saturday. In the battle at the tackle Alasdair Strokosch and Francois Louw could have a hard time. Both Nick de Luca and Juan de Jongh can cut the line, both are fast, both could have their defences tested. There is always a battle between scrumhalves - lively Mike Blair and measured Ruan Pienaar who had a much better match against Ireland now that the law amendments require him to play ruck ball more quickly.

Recent results:
2010: Scotland won 21-17, Edinburgh
2008: South Africa won 14-10, Edinburgh
2007: South Africa won 27-3, Edinburgh
2006: South Africa won 29-15, Port Elizabeth
2006: South Africa won 36-16, Durban
2004: South Africa won 45-10, Edinburgh
2003: South Africa won 28-19, Johannesburg
2003: South Africa won 29-25, Durban
2002: Scotland won 21-6, Edinburgh
1999: South Africa won 46-2, Edinburgh

Prediction: If the Scots get their ruck-'n-run game working they could upset the Springboks but the Springboks muscle may well tell in the long run. Go down the teams, player by player, unit by unit, and you wonder how the Scots could win, unless the Springboks do it for them. We predict that the Springboks will win by five points or more.

The teams

15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 David Denton, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown (captain), 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 Henry Pygros, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Peter Murchie, 23 Stuart McInally.

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 François Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 François Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Jaco Taute, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Date: Saturday, 17 November 2012
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 16.30 SA time)
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 9°C, dropping to 4°C.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Christophe Berdos (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

By Paul Dobson