Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scotland humilates Boks 21-17

Published Date: 21 November 2010
It seems vaguely appropriate that the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was produced by one of Edinburgh's favourite sons, for the same city witnessed a transformation every bit as astonishing as anything from the imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson.
• Battle charge: Scotland's Richie Gray Photograph: Ian Rutherford

The woeful rabble of last weekend morphed into yesterday's giant killers who claimed the world champion Springboks' scalp for only the fifth time in history. What a pity that just 35,000 fans chose to brave the elements to witness this jaw dropping drama. Andy Robinson's record with Scotland against the big three from the Southern Hemisphere now reads played three, won two.

Go figure!

After last Saturday's supine capitulation against New Zealand, a much- improved performance was required and this squad duly delivered. There wasn't much vintage rugby from either side, and the Boks claimed the only try of the match, but the Scots showed courage in abundance while the self-belief slowly worked its way back into their veins, first as a trickle and then in a torrent.

Presumably Peter de Villiers watched last weekend's match but still his side insisted on playing like playground bullies, attacking the narrow channels relentlessly, running at bodies rather than space and only rarely trusting their outside backs with the ball. Admittedly the wet conditions weren't ideal for Barbarian style running rugby but still the Boks were desperately limited in their ambition. The only time their backs really threatened was in the first half when Gio Aplon flew up on the left flank, but his inside pass got no further than Graeme Morrison.

This route one rugby played straight into the Scots' hands. With their pride stung by criticism, this team were in no mood to have sand kicked in their faces for the second Saturday in succession. The home side matched their opponents for physicality at the breakdown, they were wonderfully aggressive in defence, swarming all over the green shirts, and they tackled everything in sight. It warmed the heart on a cold, wet and miserable afternoon.

Not for the first time all of Scotland's points came from the boot of their enigmatic Aussie flyhalf Dan Parks, who kicked six penalties and slotted a first-half drop goal into the bargain. He varied the play expertly with deft chips and ranging touch-finders, but this victory was built firmly upon the sweat of the Scottish forwards.

Everyone played their part but leading the charge was John Barclay, Ross Ford and Allan "Chunk" Jacobsen who has never played as well in a Scotland shirt and may never do so again.

SHOOT: The SA coach is a disaster.  The smarter team won.

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