Springboks eye emphatic victory over Scotland with top rankings in sight
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Durban - The Springboks take the field at Murrayfield this afternoon (3pm) with the added carrot of knowing that an emphatic victory is likely to see them reclaim their No 1 spot on the World Rugby rankings, at the expense of New Zealand, who have a tough assignment in Dublin against Ireland.
Siya Kolisi’s men are a slender 0.03 points behind the All Blacks, who leapfrogged the Boks in the Rugby Championship when the South Africans slumped two weeks in a row to the Wallabies, with just two weekends of matches left on the 2021 rugby calendar.
If the All Blacks lose and the Boks win, the Boks go to No 1 or if the Boks win by 16 or more points and the All Blacks win by less than 15, the Boks go to No 1.
But the Boks will first and foremost be concerned simply with defeating a very tough Scotland team that last week dispatched the same Australia side that the Boks twice could not beat in Brisbane.
The Scots have a brilliant coach in Gregor Townsend, who was the British and Irish Lions attack coach, and an exceptional defence coach in Steve Tandy, who did the same job for Warren Gatland’s Lions.
The Boks are also up against their old ‘friend’ in Angus Gardner, the Aussie referee who three years ago inexplicably failed to penalise England captain Owen Farrell for an armless charge on Andre Esterhuizen, a non-decision that effectively cost the Boks the match at Twickenham.
Yesterday, assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said that the Boks could not dwell on that bad memory of Gardner.
“For us, it's a new game and a new day,” Stick said from Edinburgh. “Our process doesn't change, even though the referees in charge of our matches change weekly.
“There won't be anything different from our side. Our focus is to just control what we can control. The rest isn’t in our hands.”
Townsend, Tandy, Finn Russell, full-back Stuart Hogg, wing Duhan van der Merwe, flank Hamish Watson, centre Chris Harris, scrum-half Ali Price and prop Zander Fagerson were part of the Lions squad that lost the series to the Boks but Townsend said this doesn’t necessarily give the game an extra edge.
“The Boks were deserving winners … they did enough to win the two Tests, and Scotland is a different team. We’ve been on a different journey over the last couple of years, and we know that this is probably our biggest challenge over the last few years that we’ve faced – when you take on one of the top sides in the world, world champions.”
15 Willie le Roux 14 Jesse Kriel 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Damian de Allende 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Herschel Jantjies 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Kwagga Smith 6 Siya Kolisi (capt) 5 Franco Mostert 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ox Nché. Substitutes:
16 Malcolm Marx 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Vincent Koch 19 Lood de Jager 20 Jasper Wiese 21 Cobus Reinach 22 Handré Pollard 23 Frans Steyn.
5 Stuart Hogg (capt), 14 Rufus McLean, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Nick Haining, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4, Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Scott McInally 1 Pierre Schoeman
16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Jamie Bhattie, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 George Horne, 22 Adam Hastings, 22 Blair Kinghorn.