Football Football
Horse Racing Horse Racing
Cricket Cricket
Basketball Basketball
Golf Golf

Battle-hardened Boks will show exactly what new-look Scots are really made of

02 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Battle-hardened Boks will show exactly what new-look Scots are really made of

Despite recent struggles Scotland should be full of confidence ahead of South Africa clash, but are they throwing in the towel already?

It says a lot for the surprises at this World Cup that Scotland and South Africa head into their Pool B fixture on Saturday having undergone a complete role reversal since the tournament got underway just a fortnight ago.

Wooden spoon winners in the Six Nations as recently as March, Scotland have consistently failed to excite on the international stage throughout the modern era.

Remarkable, then, that they should head into this weekend’s game on top of the group – above the Springboks who began the competition as third favourites to become world champions for the third time.

On the back of Glasgow’s thrilling victory in the Pro12 last season, Vern Cotter’s decision to put his faith in younger players and a more expansive game appears to be paying off – with his side scoring 10 tries on their way to two impressive victories over Japan and the USA.

Yet while Scotland are treading a brave new path, South Africa have returned to a tried and tested route following their humiliating defeat to the Japanese on the opening weekend.

Having been outmanoeuvred in an open game against the Cherry Blossoms, a much-changed Springbok side tightened up against Samoa – reverting to the powerful game for which they are so famous on their way to a 46-6 victory over the Pacific Islanders.

Unfortunately the Boks did lose experienced captain Jean de Villiers along the way – he has announced his retirement after being forced to withdraw due to a broken jaw – although five of their six tries were scored by other members of the side that lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in 2007.

Three of those were provided by a JP Pietersen hat-trick, and the winger is 8/1 to score the first try and 6/4 to touch down at any-time on Saturday.

South Africa can certainly take confidence from the fact that they have won 11 of their last 12 meetings with Scotland, including the last four in a row.

Scotland meanwhile have never beaten South Africa in a country other than their own, although with the game taking place less than 100 miles away from the border at St James Park they will still enjoy the support of a vociferously partisan crowd.

READ: Read all about it! The 7 greatest upsets in the history of the Rugby World Cup

However, Cotter’s sense of adventure has not extended to naming a full-strength team, with the Kiwi clearly judging next weekend’s meeting with Samoa to be their best chance of securing the victory needed to take them through to the last eight.

In his defence, this is Scotland’s third game in 10 days – and having already lost Finn Russell and John Hardie to injury there is sense in the decision regroup by making 11 changes to the team that beat USA.

It is still a gamble that brings back memories of Scotland’s second string getting thumped 40-0 by New Zealand in 2007 in one of the most one-sided games of the tournament.

And against a side of South Africa’s calibre – they have beaten the Scots by an aggregate score of 83-6 over the course of their last two meetings and are 22/1 to triumph by between 36 and 40 points again – it is certainly a risky one.

However, this is a different Scotland whose reserves now run deeper having drafted in various recruits from the Southern Hemisphere.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is clearly wary of the presence of both Willem Nel and Josh Strauss in the Scotland pack, with both having taken part in a South Africa training camp three years ago.

As fellow Afrikaans speakers, he has even gone to the trouble of changing the Boks’ line-out calls in order to ensure that inside information is rendered redundant.

Nel scored against the US last time out and is 11/1 to do so again against the Boks, while Josh Strauss is 6/1 to celebrate playing against his country of birth with a try.

In a game where Scotland will have to match South Africa’s grunt up front, both players will certainly be required to lead from the front.

For when it comes to assessing if Cotter’s new-look squad really have what it takes to shake-up the established world order, tests do not come much tougher than this.

Scotland v South Africa match betting

Rugby World Cup betting

READ: Mike Tindall in Man v Machine: Round Three