Scots 'distraught' after Boks defeat
November 16, 2008
Southwell is unable to prevent South Africa' Jacque Fourie from scoring © Getty Images
Scotland were devastated after their 14-10 Test defeat to South Africa at Murrayfield.
Frank Hadden's side led 10-0 at half-time yesterday after a performance of bravery and efficiency which was capped by a close-range try from lock Nathan Hines. But the world champions hit back in the second period, scoring 14 unanswered points as they preserved their 100% record on their tour of the northern hemisphere.
The failure to convert their winning position into victory was a costly one for Scotland, who will now face two rugby powerhouses in the pool stage of the 2011 World Cup. That, however, was not on full-back Hugo Southwell's mind as he reflected on the way the game slipped away.
He said: "The guys are distraught. It's a game we lost 14-10 because it got away from us. Yes, we got to within four points of the world champions - but we want to be winning those games. Those opportunities don't come along too often, and it's really frustrating to lose in the manner we did. It was a massive chance for us.
"The boys put in a massive effort. In the first half we denied them the room they were looking for around the ruck. In the second half it didn't go quite as well as we wanted, because they got a bit of momentum around the ruck and played in behind us. Coupled with the penalty count going against us, it gave them the chance to get back in the game. From that position it was difficult for us to get back in the game."
The Edinburgh star insists Scotland did not try to hold what they had in the second half and were eager to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Once they were behind, the London-born player admits Scotland were frustrated in their efforts to pierce the South Africa defence.
Southwell said: "We controlled possession in the first half but in the second we didn't create the platform we needed to build on our lead - which we wanted to do, because we were eager not to try to sit on it. We knew they'd come at us even harder and we were just disappointed we couldn't deal with it better - although we did defend well as a team.
"It was just frustrating that the last pass wasn't quite there or that we got turned over when in possession. It sounds like a familiar story, but their defence was pretty tough - and we couldn't quite break them down."
Southwell entered the fray in the first quarter of the match - after Chris Paterson was injured, having taken a high ball under pressure. While the loss of main goal-kicker Paterson affected Scotland detrimentally, as Phil Godman and Dan Parks both missed easy penalty kicks, Southwell had an excellent match. The 28-year-old kicked from hand with composure, put in one terrific tackle on Jean De Villiers and almost stopped Jaque Fourie scoring what turned out to be the decisive try.
Southwell said: "It was a similar situation to last week against when Sean (Lamont) was injured pretty early on. It was obviously unfortunate circumstances. But you have to be ready, and I was delighted to get a good run but just gutted at how it turned out. I was very pleased with how I played. You've got to be prepared to play when you come on against a team like South Africa, because their defence is so tough.
"You are getting smashed from all angles. You've got to be right mentally when you're on the bench, and that was something I was very pleased with. The tackle on Fourie was slightly different to the one on Jean de Villiers - because although he was flying along, I had the touchline to push him into.
"That time I was coming across him and I had to be aware that he might sidestep me, so I had to hold my channel. Even so, he must have been very close to putting his foot in touch."
South Africa captain John Smit gave grudging praise to Scotland's front row. Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Euan Murray held their own against the famed Springbok scrummage - although the visitors' plans were disrupted when Bismarck Du Plessis was injured very early on, and Smit had to move from tighthead prop to his more usual position of hooker.
Smit said: "I don't think Scotland will be 'out-scrummed' by anyone, because they're not very big on going straight. They were coming off the mark every time - they're pretty streetwise, and it was chaos at times. Losing Bismarck wasn't ideal. I would have liked to have an opportunity on Saturday against Jacobsen, because he's a pretty good loosehead and it would have given me a chance for some experience. But it wasn't to be."
South Africa next meet Martin Johnson's England, defeated by Australia yesterday. Smit said: "We go to every game confident of winning. England at Twickenham will be a different challenge to the last two weeks, and we'll have to see what Australia did when they beat them."
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery