The Boks were brutal in Durban, but the sorry Scots couldn’t even claim to be brave as they took a whipping in the first of two tests.
John Smit’s Springboks opened their 2006 season with a comprehensive 36-16 win after leading 18-6 at halftime. The win was not surprising, with Scotland’s late try the only surprise of the day. It will be a long seven days between tests for the Scots, whose captain Jason White admitted his pack took a beating.
The win was satisfactory for the Boks in every sense. They scored four good tries, could have had a couple more and the defence generally was sound. There were missed tackles, 16 of them, but in the context of the match they proved meaningless. Scotland did not have the creative to punish any defensive slips and on the day they offered very little in a one-sided contest.
The Boks, 20 point winners at the end, were good for every point that separated the teams and Port Elizabeth, the venue for next weekend’s test, is unlikely to bring any respite.
Much was expected of the Scottish pack, but the famed rucking and counter-rucking was left in Edinburgh as the Boks slapped around the Scots at the breakdown and pulverised them in the tight phases. Os du Randt, at loosehead, was colossal, while Victor Matfield disrupted the Scottish lineout with regularity and Danie Rossouw was prominent in all aspects. With no scrum, lineout or ruck platform, the Scots played most of the test in retreat, while the Boks marched relentlessly to a fine victory.
Percy Montgomery profited from the forward dominance to score 21 points, including his 18th test try, but the major points were scored by the forwards. It was a complete performance in the first hour, but once the substitutions were made the Boks lost momentum and intensity. On this particular day, against an opponent that did not threaten the Boks at any stage, the final quarter lapses went unpunished.
Schalk Burger won the man of the match award but you could easily have given it to any one of the loose-forwards. Fellow loosies Juan Smith and Joe van Niekerk were very good and so was Burger, but Du Randt would have been an even more popular beneficiary because his performance really set the tone of the match.
Fourie du Preez’s return at scrumhalf added stability to the Boks and Jaco van der Westhuyzen did enough to warrant his inclusion as the Bok flyhalf. His field kicking could have been better, but he varied his play nicely and gave the backs the spark with some decent passes. It was the Boks counter-attacking that proved more lethal than the constructed backline moves and Jake White will point to the manner in which the tries were scored as his answer to those who argued the Boks had lost the ability to score tries after last week’s 10 penalties 30-27 win against the World XV.
Jean de Villiers’s injury was a negative, as was Andre Snyman’s all-round performance, while there was minimal impact from second half substitutes Gaffie du Toit, Hanyani Shimange and Lawrence Sephaka. But they were negatives that White can live with in this early part of the international season, especially if the opposition remains as limp as it was in Durban.
Tries: Schalk Burger, Breyton Paulse, Andre Snyman and Percy Montgomery
Conversions: Montgomery (2)
Penalties: Montgomery (4)
Tries: Simon Webster
Conversion: Chris Paterson
Penalties: Paterson (3)