The Scottish dream of a first test win against the Springboks in South Africa will be shattered on Saturday afternoon.
Scotland, winners on four occasions in 16 starts against the Boks, have never won in South Africa and won’t change that on this tour. They are an improved team at Murrayfield, but their form away from home has been desperate. Forget the talk of them having beaten England and France in Edinburgh, they lost in Dublin and in Cardiff and were headed for an embarrassing away defeat to Italy before triumphing 13-10.
Imagine the outcry in this country if the Boks needed a 78th minute three pointer to beat Italy!
The Scottish team has been spoken up, more in the hope of a contest than any serious conviction they actually have the firepower to shock the Boks.
This is a quality Bok team. The pack has that awesome look about it, unlike the mix and match who started against the World XV and Breyton Paulse’s return will give the back three unit more balance.
The Boks will probably battle a bit in the first 30 minutes and it will be down to a combination of nerves, tension and a passionate Scottish beginning. But as the nerves settle, so too will the flow of the game and the Boks will win by 15 to 20 points. Fourie du Preez will give the backs more structure and Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield and Juan Smith give the pack a dimension that wasn’t there at Ellis Park in the shabby performance against the World XV.
John Smit’s leadership is also worth a good few points.
In other international matches, the All Blacks (despite not fielding many of their first choice players) will still be too strong for Ireland, but it won’t be the 61-8 average score the All Blacks have managed over the last 25 first-up internationals at home. The AB’s will win by a similar margin to the Boks in the region of a 15 to 20 pointer.
And the bones’s final throw favours Knuckles Connolly and his new look Wallabies.
England will go down because the side Andy Robinson has assembled is not good enough. The fact that Mike Catt, at 34 years of age, is seen as the solution to the back play wobbles, says it all.
The Wobblies of 2005 to pitch up as the Wallabies of 2006 and to take it by 10 points.