It was not quite a Murrayfield massacre, but South Africa’s 28-0 shut out of Scotland was magical enough.
The Springboks, second only to the All Blacks in rugby’s world order, played like a team of champions against a Scottish side that would have made a chump look like a champ.
These Scots are awful, but that should not detract from the imposing nature of the Springboks 28-0 win.
France will be a different challenge, but the Boks will be as ready as they have ever been to end the losing sequence against the French in France.
Scotland were never going to trouble the Springboks. They didn’t have the quality of player to ever ask questions of the Boks defence. And they didn’t have the defensive structure or nous to deny the Springboks.
This performance was never about the score but the quality of play.
If there’s a criticism of the match it would be in the selection. Sunday did represent a good opportunity to play a few of the younger ones like Pieter-Stef du Toit, Siya Kolisi and Jan Serfontein.
I’d also like to have seen Johan Goosen on the subs bench and getting the last 20 minutes.
But I can understand Meyer’s thinking in the short-term. This was a match in preparation for France in Paris and not one necessarily in preparation of the World Cup in 2015.
The Boks were brutal and the Scots were brave. That was the story of the first four minutes when Scotland never touched the ball.
The Boks, fluent, controlled and aggressive, played the opening exchange (all 240 seconds) with accuracy and precision. Then Scotland infringed, the Boks got a penalty, kicked for the lineout, won it and scored from the driving maul.
It was game over.
Scotland then showed their bravery in defence. They are a proud lot but these days lack international rugby integrity.
It was a no contest when 15 played 15 and Scotland even failed to make a one-man advantage count in the final 10 minutes.
Willem Alberts, strong in the carry, was the outstanding Springbok forward in the opening quarter. Duane Vermeulen and fellow loose-forward Francois Louw were ever present and Bakkies Botha, on his return to Test rugby, was as good as he has ever been.
The All Blacks, against England, underlined the immense value of potency among the substitutes and the only team that can match the All Blacks in terms of match-day quality are these Springboks.
Eben Etzebeth replaced Botha on the hour and Bismarck du Plessis took over from Adriaan Strauss. That’s the kind of quality that wins teams big tournaments, including the World Cup.
Meyer is right to invest in the experience of players like Fourie du Preez, Botha, JP Pietersen and Jaques Fourie.
Pietersen, in his 50th Test, was very good, Botha was … well Botha … and Fourie is the only one who still has to find the form of a few seasons back.
It’s good he is back in the fold. He can only get better.
Willie le Roux was brilliant in everything he did. He scored a try from an intercept and he created a special one for Pietersen.
Le Roux looked at home in the No 15 jersey and he gives the Boks back division a dimension from broken play attack.
Replacement tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen got a decent hit out because of injury to Frans Malherbe and that is the one area that still isn’t quite right in this Bok mix.
France will attack the Boks in the scrum, especially with Malherbe ruled out. It is the one aspect of the French game that never struggles.
Oosthuizen will have benefitted because of the extended game time, but he isn’t ready to start against France.
The Boks were emphatic in dominating the game, but what would have pleased the coaching staff is keeping Scotland tryless.
The Boks were in a no-win situation. They were never going to lose against Scotland and when they scored the first of four tries within the first five minutes they probably only added to the expectation that a 20 point win could be closer to 50.
The Boks led 21-0 at half-time and got just the one try in the second half, but they were always in control of the game and Scotland didn’t ever come close to a five pointer.
The Boks were sloppy in the lineouts in the last five minutes, but the only concern of the day was in Louw leaving the field on a stretcher with five minutes to play.
I hope it isn’t serious – and by all accounts it isn’t – because if Louw doesn’t play in Paris it will make a difference.
Murrayfield was messy for the Scots. It was quite the opposite for the Boks.