Preview: South Africa v Scotland

Fri, 27 Jun 2014 06:45
Large handre pollard boks trainin

It's hard to get enthusiastic about this match - weakened South Africa against weak and further depleted  Scotland.

It's hard to get enthusiastic about this match - weakened South Africa against weak and further depleted  Scotland.

The Springboks have six changes to their starting XV  and a whole new bench - as migratory birds have flown north.

What has been changed is the team that beat Wales last week by a single point with a penalty try near the end.

The Scots are intrinsically weak, coming second last in the 2014 Six Nations and they managed that by beating Italy by a single point - thanks to a dropped goal by Duncan Weir in the last minute.

There are only four players in the team to start in Port Elizabeth that started against Italy - Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, who has switched wings, Duncan Weir and Chris Fusaro. Moray Louw  started in that team, but is on the bench, while this Saturday's props were on the bench against Italy as was Tim Simpson. Eight of their present 23 players were involved in the Italian match.

It is a weak side possibly further weakened.

This it seems is what Test matches have come to - matches played at all cost regardless of how representative they really are. But they bring in some money. It has not been a great June for Springbok fans.

Not that it is a match devoid of interest - not at all, but the interest will be in the performances of individuals perhaps more than the outcome of the match or the performance of the teams.

Both teams have had three matches this month and have won all three.

South Africa beat a World XV and Wales twice.

Scotland beat the United States (24-6), Canada (19-17) and Argentina (21-19). They have a new coach in Vern Cotter, but have a had a good while to get used to him and to understand how he wants them to play.

Players to watch:

For South Africa: Unpredictable Willie le Roux, who may yet prove to be the saviour of modern rugby from the tedium of mindless repetition. Then you will want to watch the performance of Handré Pollard, a week ago the captain of the South African Under-20 side, now a starting Springbok. His age is not frightening; after all he is about a year older than Jonny Wilkinson when first he played for England in 1998, a month and a bit short of his 19th birthday. Pollard is about the same age as Jannie Barnard when he played flyhalf for South Africa in 1965. Dan Carter was 21 when he first played for New Zealand. Fortunately for Pollard he will play with Fourie du Preez, by far the best scrumhalf South Africa has, a player with great instincts. But clearly he has talent enough. South Africa loves locks and already Lodewyk de Jager is a player spoken off in joyous awe as, at 22, he packs down in Bakkies Botha's place - next to his captain Victor Matfield, South Africa's most capped player and the oldest ever to play in a Test. There is the combination of youth and age all right. And you will see Schalk Burger, the most energetic of men. There will also be interest in the three uncapped players on the Springbok bench - Stephan Lewies, Oupa Mohoje and confident Marnitz Boshoff.

For Scotland: Young, adventurous fullback Stuart Hogg. You will also see bearded Geoff Cross at tighthead - like Jannie du Plessis a medical doctor. Two tightheads, two doctors.

Head to Head: Willie le Roux versus Stuart Hogg, the fullbacks with 28 players between them but it will be interesting to see who has the greater influence on the match. Big, aggressive Duane Vermeulen against 20-year-old new cap Adam Ashe. Geoff Cross's scrummaging against Coenie Oosthuizen will certainly be of interest.

Recent results:
2013: South Africa won 28-0, Edinburgh
2013: South Africa won 30-17, Nelspruit
2012: South Africa won 21-10, Edinburgh
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

Prediction: Murrayfield and 44-0 are a part of South Africa's rugby lore. That was in 1951 but Scotland have beaten South Africa five times in 24 matches. That is more often than Ireland and Wales have done. Scotland have played in South Africa six times, losing all six. They have played twice before in Port Elizabeth - in 1960 when the Springboks won 18-10 and in 2006 when the Springboks won 29-15. This time South Africa will be hoping for a much better performance than they managed in Nelspruit last weekend and would expect for their Springboks to be too strong and too fast for the Scots an win by 25 points or more.


South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Robert Harley, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Kevin Bryce, 17 Moray Low, 18 Euan Murray, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Dougie Fife, 23 Peter Murchie.

Date: Saturday, June 28
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT; 16.00 BST)
Expected weather: Clear with a high of 19°C, dropping to 10°C  
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

By Paul Dobson