De Beer puts Scots to the sword
October 3, 1999
South Africa prop Ollie Le Roux crashes over to score his first international try
© Getty Images
There are a reputed 300,000 South Africans living in London and it seemed that a healthy percentage had made the pilgrimage to Murrayfield to worship the Boks. The green-shirted supporters on the train to Edinburgh reckoned against a Scottish win and, although a Boer with a beer is not the most objective judge, they were right today.
Scotland have not defeated South Africa since 1969 when Jim Telfer played at No. 8. They gave it their best shot today with him in the stand but it wasn't quite good enough. The Scots play a high-risk game which is prone to error, and two in the second half put paid to their chances to upset the odds and the World Champions at Murrayfield. Jannie de Beer's sixteen points and general excellence as much as anything ensured another Springboks win.
Joost van der Westhuizen caught Gregor Townsend's kickoff, and Stuart Grimes' crunching tackle at about the same time. When Armstrong did the same to Jannie de Beer a minute later it was obvious the bravehearts were in no mood to take any prisoners.
After soaking up some early pressure the first points fell to the Scots. Pieter Rossouw dithered with John Leslie's clearence. Glen Metcalf charged down the winger's kick before retreiving the ball. The Springboks were forced to stray offside from the ruck to prevent a possible five-pointer from the home side. Kenny Logan made no mistake with the penalty.
The Springboks lifted their game but declined the first opportunity to level the scores after Martin Leslie strayed offside. However, having failed to breach the home defence de Beer opted for three points just minutes later when the Scots used their hands in a ruck.
The penalty ping-pong continued as Logan claimed his second after a rare sortie into enemy territory. Golden boy Bobby Skinstad the culprit at a lineout, and Logan did well from forty odd yards. The Scots were grateful for the breather as much as the three point lead.
Unfortunately the home lineout was not the slick source of supply it had been in the Five Nations. The Springboks stole another and Os du Randt made some valuable yards. From the resultant scrum Skinstad fed Brendan Venter going left on an angle and the centre outpaced Gary Armstrong to the corner flag. De Beer kicked both that conversion, and a penalty shorty afterwards from a similar spot, to give the Springboks a seven point cushion.
Scotland had seen too little of the ball, giving away what little they did win, and were getting fed up with the constant tackling practice. However, they rallied after poaching a Springbok ruck ball. A pity that Alan Tait couldn't hold John Leslie's pass as an overlap beckoned but still Logan bagged another three points as the Boks were caught infringing.
South Africa were grateful to winger Deon Kayser who killed a dangerous looking chip by Logan. But Scotland had their tails up and were not to be denied. George Graham took the ball deep into enemy territory from a midfield ruck. It took a despairing tackle on Gary Armstrong by his opposite number to halt the border terrior but Martin Leslie barged his way over from the breakdown. Logan, his Twickenham gaffs forgotten and forgiven, made it 16-13 for the hosts.
The Scots finished the half in the ascendent. Tait teased a kick into the opposition corner. Nothing came of that but Glen Metcalfe showed good enterprise, and his disdain for the crowds' heart-rate, by taking a quick lineout deep in his own 22 so putting into practice the theory that the best form of defence is attack.
After a shaky start Scotland grew into the game and were good value for their three point half-time advantage.
An early mistake just after the break by Gregor Townsend allowed the visitors to apply the pressure. Although du Randt and the rest of the South African pack were denied a pushover in a series of goal-line scrums the clearence kick, when it came, was poor. Montgomery was missed by both Armstrong and Tait. He off-loaded to Venter and the ball was shipped right via Deon Kayser to Robbie Fleck and the centre was able to outpace John Leslie's cover defence. De Beer missed his first kick of the game but the Boks had regained the lead by two.
Scotland's response had the stadium on its feet. Twice John Leslie was denied after Townsend's clever kicks had turned the defence. The second time he was only inches shy of the line but even worse the centre was stretchered off, a terrible blow to Scotlands' hopes of progress.
The Scots' played keepball against the World Champions. Scott Murray showed his full range of skills, selling dummies and side-steps, as the Scots kept up a relentless pressure. All they could show for it was another Logan penalty. Although he regained a brief lead it was scant consolation for losing Leslie.
Four minutes and two Townsend mistakes later the match was over as a contest. The Scots' flyhalf failed to find touch and Pieter Rossouw ran the ball back. When it was worked left from a ruck Cammy Murray had two to mark and chose to ignore replacement Ollie le Roux who cantered in for a try.
Shortly after the restart an over-ambitious pass from Townsend never made it to intended receiver Scott Murray and Springbok winger Deon Kayser intercepted to score under the posts. Scotland have a resilience about them but even they were going to stuggle to recover from thirteen points down with thirteen to play.
Although Alan Tait scored a late try and Townsend a later drop-goal, to give the Scots a ray of hope, two injury-time tries for Andre Venter and Joost van der Westhuizen gave the visitors a scoreline which flattered them.
This game was what the RWC'99 is all about. Highly skillful and whole-hearted from whistle to whistle it had the crowd enthralled as the lead changed hands an astonishing six times before the game ran away from the home nation in the final quarter. The paying public were complaining about £35 ticket prices and the stadium was less than full. They don't know what a bargain they missed.