The first half was a tough affair, but the Springboks’ World Cup campaign is on track after they beat Scotland 18 – 3 in Marseille.
There was a lot of talk beforehand about the Scots’ good attacking work: Finn Russell is the creativity by itself, while Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe provide the speed and power at the back.
But speed doesn’t help you much when you’re up against the Boks’ rock-solid defence. Every time a Scot looked for a bit of front-foot momentum, he was mercilessly driven back – no easy task in the warm conditions of the French near-autumn.
Frans Malherbe (can you believe it?) admittedly conceded a few scrum penalties, but before long the South Africans also made their mark in this section of the game.
Scotland is trapped, crumpled and beautified and even Jamie Ritchie’s best Braveheart-speech wouldn’t have worked: His team’s scrum was in reverse gear.
However, it wasn’t just the forwards who gave the Scots headaches.
Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe were thorns on the attack and their nimble footwork made them formidable opponents; no matter who they play against.
Then Damian de Allende often raised his voice in midfield, while Faf de Klerk also deserves a pat on the shoulder in his 50th Test for South Africa.
Manie Libbok struggled with his kicking and his kicking duties were later taken over by De Klerk.
However, the Humansdorp native’s dive stopped a flying Graham in his tracks and his clever kick gave Arendse wings on the way to the goal line.
— James Rakumako (@JTNova) September 10, 2023
It was probably not as vivid as the heroics at Twickenham, but South Africa started things on a winning note and their forwards sent a clear warning to the other teams: You don’t just mess with a Bok.
Springboks: Tries: Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kurt-Lee Arendse. Goal kick: Faf de Klerk. Penalty kicks: Manie Libbok (2).
Scotland: Penalty kick: Finn Russell.