Despite being at the end of their season, the Springboks have had two contrasting performances on their November tour to Europe.
In the opener against England, the Boks dominated territory and possession in the first half, but wasted it by opting to kick front-foot ball away for most of the game at Twickenham.
The lineout malfunctioned as well, with Malcolm Marx wilting under the pressure, and they came up short at 12-11.
In Paris against France, the South Africans were not really in the game in the first half, as the home side played with greater urgency and precision.
But Rassie Erasmus suddenly woke up in the second half, and fought back from 23-9 down to take it in injury time as Bongi Mbonambi scored the winning try off the back of a maul.
So, can they actually play like they did in the second half at the Stade de France for the full 80 minutes against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday?
Well, the portents are there for them to do so. Firstly, dry conditions are expected for Edinburgh, although the 5.20pm local time kickoff (7.20pm SA time) means that it will be chilly.
The welcome elevation of Embrose Papier to the starting line-up – although enforced, as Faf de Klerk is back at his English club Sale – gives a clear indication of how the Boks want to play against Scotland.
Ivan van Zyl stuck to Erasmus’ box-kick plan to the tee against England, while Papier is known for his speed across the ground and ability to break around big forwards at the fringes of the rucks.
Captain Siya Kolisi spoke in a somewhat frustrated tone at the captain’s press conference on Friday in Edinburgh, seeming to want to say that the Boks are a much better side than the fits-and-starts manner in which they have played on tour up to now.
They showed what they are capable of in that memorable win over the All Blacks in Wellington, and that’s the standard they need to reach again at Murrayfield.
“It’s been a really good week. We worked really hard during the last week, and obviously, we’ve had to have a good look at ourselves, after that tough first half last week. So ja, we’ve prepared really well and are excited for this game,” Kolisi said on Friday.
“We just want to improve, man – get better and better each week. The ultimate goal is to play an awesome game for 80 minutes, and do what we can for 80 minutes. I know it will come somewhere, and we will definitely be pushing it for this week.”
Kolisi said the last-gasp victory over France “was special for us as a team”, adding that the way it happened – with a turnover from Francois Louw on the Bok line to Mbonambi hitting his jumper in a series of lineouts – made it “more special”.
The Bok No 6 was adamant that his team were not feeling the effects of a long 2018 season, with Scotland renowned for playing a quick game that will stretch the South African defence.
“Coach Rassie and his management team, and Aled, have prepared us really well. Where we were having breaks, now we train. So we are always active,” Kolisi said.
“And he made it so simple – it’s only 14 games that we play for the Springboks, so he wants to make sure that for the game that we want to play, we are physically and mentally fit.
“And obviously his experience from coaching here last year, now he knows exactly what is needed. We’ve been the most prepared this year than we’ve ever been.”@ashfakmohamed