Mixed feelings for Hines
November 17, 2008
Scotland's Nathan Hines and Mike Blair shackle South Africa's Adi Jacobs © Getty Images
Nathan Hines feels the back-handed compliment paid to the Scotland forwards by South Africa captain John Smit shows Frank Hadden's pack are making their mark on the world stage.
Smit, recognised as one of the finest forwards in the game, described Scotland's front five as "streetwise" after the world champions edged to a 14-10 victory in the Autumn Test at Murrayfield. Scotland's forwards had the upper hand at the breakdown for much of the game with South Africa's much-vaunted back row of Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger and Juan Smith kept unusually quiet.
It was from a succession of thrusts near the Springbok line by the home pack which set up the chance for Hines to crash over in the first half and help his country build a 10-0 lead going into the break. However, South Africa fought back in the second period thanks to a succession of penalties which gifted them dominance of territory and possession.
Their solitary try came from Jaque Fourie at the height of their dominance and, allied to nine points from the boot of Ruan Pienaar, it was enough to secure victory. Smit's grudging words of praise for Scotland's forwards was small consolation for Hines, who believes the performance against the Springboks was typical of what they produce these days.
He said: "We're always playing like that now. We certainly haven't practised cheating or anything. I just think we put in a really big effort. We expected it to be tough up front and it was. I don't remember many attacks around the fringes of rucks last week against New Zealand but we knew this week there would be and everyone knows South Africa play a direct game. But I thought we handled it well.
"I thought they were there for the taking and we just didn't take it, that's the way I look at and I think that's the way the rest of the boys looked at it. You don't get many opportunities to put away the world champions and we didn't do it. Maybe because we haven't been in that situation much in the past two years didn't help, I don't know. We just need to take the bull by the horns when we're in that frame of mind. This is more frustrating than when we ran them close over there in 2000 because we led for most of this game and it was a much more solid performance."
The Perpignan second row is now looking forward to Scotland's final Autumn Test against Canada at Pittodrie on Saturday. He said: "We've played some really good rugby this Autumn and hope that we can take that through to Canada this weekend and then into the Six Nations. What we haven't done is finish games off. Set piece has been good, the back play has been good and the kicking has been good but we just haven't finished it off and that's the only thing that has been lacking."
Scotland were given hope Chris Paterson could play against Canada, despite the facial injury which forced him off during the defeat to South Africa. Paterson left the field in the early stages of the loss at Murrayfield with a suspected fractured left cheekbone. Scotland team doctor James Robson said: ``Chris was seen by a specialist facial consultant, Ed Larkins at the Spire Murrayfield hospital where he had preliminary investigations to the blow he took to his left cheek.
"These initial investigations have indicated that no surgery will be required. Chris will undergo further assessment on Wednesday (allowing the swelling to recede) to exclude a possible hairline fracture."
Scotland will also monitor the fitness of winger Thom Evans (bruising), stand-off Phil Godman (stitches), Jason White (neck) and Allister Hogg (stitches).
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