Scots end Springboks' Grand Slam dream
November 20, 2010
Jean De Villiers takes on the Scotland defence
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Scotland ended South Africa's hopes of a first successful Grand Slam tour in 50 years with a gritty 21-17 triumph at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Andy Robinson's men underlined their battling qualities by succeeding where Ireland and Wales failed in recent weeks, bouncing back from last weekend's 49-3 hammering at the hands of New Zealand with a gutsy display in atrocious conditions.
Dan Parks kicked all of the home side's points with six penalties and a drop goal, eclipsing Willem Alberts' late try and 12 points from fly-half Morne Steyn to ensure that Avril Malan's 1960-61 tourists remain the last South African side to complete a clean sweep against the Home Unions.
A difficult week for South Africa, headlined by Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson's failed drugs tests and a broken hand for Bryan Habana, ended on a massive low as they were outfought for the vast majority of the afternoon, their power game ineffective against a Scottish side willing to match them blow for blow.
Scotland were led by scrum-half Rory Lawson for the first time following an injury to Mike Blair, while Northampton centre Joe Ansbro was lively after being drafted in for a surprise debut in place of Max Evans.
Steyn slotted a simple penalty to get the scoring underway after two minutes but both he and his namesake, centre Frans, failed to convert further chances from the tee in an error-riddled opening 10 minutes.
The Springboks extended their lead with another shot form Steyn on 12 minutes, having generated some much-needed momentum with a typically effective lineout maul just inside the Scottish half. Gio Aplon then injected some quality into proceedings with a lightning dart along the touchline but Graeme Morrison's timely intervention saved the home side.
Parks knocked over his first attempt at goal to halve the South African lead on 16 minutes and the Cardiff Blues fly-half levelled things up with a wonky drop-goal after Sean Lamont had pierced the Springbok line with a powerful surge off an inside ball. The home side's purple patch continued with a fine five minutes from their front-row. An Allan Jacobsen turnover won territory before Parks' cross-kick to Lamont resulted in a South African knock-on, the Scottish pack winning a scrum penalty that was sent between the posts for a three-point lead on 23 minutes.
Parks continued to grow in stature, shredding the South African rush defence with a well-judged kick to set Morrison galloping into space and further extending the Scottish lead with another penalty after some over-eagerness from the visitors saw them pinged for offside.
Steyn responded with his third penalty on 36 minutes but Scotland ended the half in confident fashion. After Parks had been flattened while lining up another drop-goal, Ansbro set off on a mazy run through the South African defence only for the opportunity to go begging with a knock-on from Jacobsen.
The second-half spluttered into life with further mistakes from both sides, although Steyn did keep his composure to level the scores after 46 minutes. Parks put Lamont under major pressure on his own line with an unsympathetic pass but after some sterling defensive work from Lawson Scotland were soon on the front foot and ahead on the scoreboard. A rare flutter from the South African lineout gifted the ball to John Barclay, whose snaffling job was followed up by a thrilling break from Richie Vernon. The replacement No.8 was halted by a shoulder-charge from Zane Kirchner but Scotland recycled the ball before a shrill blast from referee Stuart Dickinson's whistle saw Parks calling for the tee.
With Scotland 15-12 up South Africa continued to put themselves under pressure by making regular errors, their lineout coming under inreased pressure as the rain teemed down. A penalty against Jannie du Plessis for slipping his bind at a scrum allowed Parks another shot at the posts and he duly accepted, opening up a six point lead just after the hour mark.
South Africa became increasingly frustrated with the referee as the half wore on and flanker Juan Smith was left particularly aggrieved when pinged for going off his feet in the shadow of the posts. Parks stepped up to open up a nine point lead, one that was cut very soon after to four as the Springboks struck for the game's first try.
Another brutish maul took them to within inches of the Scottish line and while they were held up, the home side had infringed in the build-up. The resulting penalty went to corner and off the back of the lineout, Alberts swivelled and crashed across the whitewash. A boos rang out from the crowd, replacement fly-half Lambie missed his conversion to leave Scotland a decisive two scores ahead. The final moments saw Scotland play close-quarters rugby to great effect, with Lawson conducting things from the base before smashing the ball into the stands to the delight of the home faithful.
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