Boks win ugly

Jake White’s Springboks won a scrappy, error-strewn second Test encounter against Scotland 29-15 in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The match was hardly a spectacle, but it was a win nonetheless as White’s charges took to 13 their unbeaten home run – a Springbok record.

Once again Danie Rossouw was outstanding in a mediocre Bok display, while Schalk Burger was tireless throughout and centre Wynand Olivier had a bright game in his first start in Tests for the Boks.

Scotland were a constant thorn in the Boks side, but it took another piece of Stuart Dickinson magic to allow them to get as close as they did. His blatant decision not to call offsides on the reserve flanker, Donnie Macfadyen, who then went on to score the Scots second try, was ludicrous.

But mostly the Boks had themselves to blame for a disjointed display that will simply not cut it if they hope to beat France in Cape Town next weekend.

The Boks though had an ideal start when Percy Montgomery put over a second minute penalty after the Scots were penalised for offsides. And three minutes later he kicked another from the opposite side of the field to give the home team a 6-0 lead. It was also his 600th point in Tests for South Africa.

The Boks struggled to assert the forward dominance that was evident in Durban and Scotland showed they could be a threat when they stole a Bok line-out ball inside their own 22 and charged up-field where they were awarded a penalty and eventually scored a well-worked try by Simon Webster.

The chance to take the lead was lost when Chris Paterson’s conversion dropped short. And Montgomery made that miss count even more when he banged over his third penalty four minutes later to make it 9-5 to South Africa.

The Boks showed a willingness to run the ball, especially early on, and as a result created several good opportunities, but a combination of dropped passes and wrong options saw those moves break down prematurely.

Despite this they continued to try and be adventurous, but could not get through a solid Scottish defensive line. A monstrous Jaco van der Westhuyzen penalty from 55m on 27 minutes though pushed the Boks out further.

That proved to be the last incident of note in a half that got progressively worse. The Scots treaded the off-side line very tightly and rushed the Boks when the home team was on attack.

In an effort to hurry the visitors in the first 40 minutes, the Boks used quick lineout throws, but it proved more a hindrance than a help as Scotland caught on quickly and closed the space down rapidly. And thus the Boks found themselves on the backfoot more often than not.

The urgency from both teams – evident in at least the first 20 minutes – deteriorated as the interval approached. Eventually the teams went into the break with the Boks enjoying a seven point cushion, despite a late effort from Webster that was overruled by the TMO, which would have levelled the scores had the conversion been good.

The second stanza started inauspiciously for the Boks when Monty’s clearance kick slid off his boot, but still the Boks continued with their desire to pay positive rugby. Unfortunately it didn’t work as the Scots made most of the play throughout the last 60 minutes.

For all the endeavour, the Boks just could cross the line and it took another Monty penalty six minutes after the restart to stretch the Boks’ lead to 10 points.

It didn’t last long as Chris Paterson sloted one from 40m out minutes later that kept the visitors within striking distance. Coach Jake White brought on CJ van der Linde for Eddie Andrews at tighthead prop in the hope of perhaps getting a better platform.

It was not really forthcoming and the scrappy nature of the game continued. Paterson and Montgomery traded penalties to leave the score 18-8, before scrumhalf Fourie du Preez finally scored a try for the Boks after nearly an hour of trying.

The Scots ensured it was close until the very end when replacement Donnie Macfadyen scored from a Van der Westhuyzen mistake. However it was clearly evident to those sitting in line that he was about 4m offside when the ball is passed.

Touch judge Dickinson was also perfectly positioned to make the call, but was either blind or blatantly cheating as he allowed the five-pointer to stand as referee Tony Spreadbury had his back turned.

Fog enveloped the ground in the closing minutes as Montgomery kicked his 7th penalty from seven attempts to put the Boks out to 29-15 and seal the series win, but still a chorus of boos greeted the final whistle.

France awaits and a drastic improvement will be required if the unbeaten sequence is not to end on unlucky No 13.

By Andrew Hollely, at the EPRU Stadium