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South Africa make statement with opening round win over Scotland

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South Africa make big statement with convincing Scotland win.

Written by Rory Forde.

South Africa kick-started their 2023 World Cup campaign with a convincing 18-3 victory over Scotland on Sunday evening.

After a relatively even first half, the Springboks took charge with a 10-minute blitz at the start of the second half where they scored two tries, courtesy of Pieter-Steph Du Toit and Kurt-Lee Arendse, and that was enough to take the points in Marseille.

South Africa suffocate Scotland in Pool B clash.

South Africa began the defense of their World Cup crown against a Scotland side who were hopeful of causing an upset in this eagerly anticipated match-up.

A warm-up victory over the All Blacks brewed confidence for the Springboks while Scotland face a tough task to get out of Pool B, drawing the two top ranked nations in the world.

From the outset South Africa went direct with their kicking, testing Blair Kinghorn in the air and the Scotsman struggled in the opening seven minutes to claim any high balls.

The physicality of the Springboks was put on the display early, as Scotland collapsed in the scrum on nine minutes, giving Manie Libbok his first chance to look at the posts but the South African kicked wide on his first attempt.

Just three minutes later, a deliberate knock-on from Finn Russell resulted in Libbok getting the chance to right his previous wrong, which he did and South Africa took the lead.

With 15 minutes played, Scotland looked to string together some phases of play, but their possession was short lived as the South African line speed was proving difficult for the Scots.

Tense.

In what turned out to be a feature of this game, Scotland lost two of their first three line-outs in the opening 17 minutes of the game.

Cheslin Kolbe was relentless in the tackle and notably challenged both Russell and Sione Tuipulotu and won a penalty for the Springboks in the process.

Libbok stood over the penalty once again and made no mistake this time giving South Africa a 6-0 lead on 25 minutes.

On the half-hour mark, Scotland looked to be gaining in confidence and went close to getting their first points on the board when Darcy Graham charged towards the line but, after recycling possession, Tuipulotu saw the ball stolen off of him and South Africa cleared the ball up-field.

The improvement in possession seemed to spark an improvement in defense for the Scots as the Scottish pack held firm against a powerful push from South Africa, and the Blues looked to be defending much more together in the final 10 minutes of the half.

With 40 minutes on the clock and half-time beckoning, Scotland won a penalty in the scrum. Russell stood over the kick and converted, halving the deficit.

At half-time the scoreboard read: South Africa 6-3 Scotland

South Africa produce dominant second half despite Libbok struggles.

The confidence Scotland gained in the last 10 minutes of the first half was quickly put to bed in the second half as the Springboks came charging out of the blocks.Β 

Three minutes into the second period, South Africa won their own penalty in the scrum but Libbok once again looked unconvincing over the kick and put it wide.

Despite the miss, South Africa were evidently going through the gears and began to push for the opening try of the game.

That try came in the 47th minute when Pieter-Steph Du Toit was the man to muscle his way through the Scottish rear-guard after some probing from the Springboks. Libbok stood over the conversion and once again kicked it wide, which turned out to be his last kick at goal.

Two minutes later, South Africa had another try. Libbok, despite his troubles in front of the posts, produced a sensational no-look cross-field pass which picked out Kurt-Lee Arendse who didn’t have to break stride to collect and drive over the line to make the scores 16-3.

The impressive Faf De Klerk stood over this conversion, and he made no mistake, increasing the South Africa lead to 18-3.

The wind seemed to be taken out of the Scottish sails after that second try, and Scotland struggled to trouble South Africa for the remainder of the half.

Russell impressed for Scotland with his kicking in particular, but it was a rare highlight in what was a difficult half for the Scots.

The Springboks physicality evidently took over, as they consistently won the line-outs and gave Scotland no time to think with their brilliant line speed and well-drilled defensive structure.

In the final 10 minutes South Africa troubled Scotland with their pace, with Kolbe and substitute Grant Williams in particular hurting the tired Blues’ legs.

Before the game, it seemed as though the contest would be decided in the battle between Scotland’s dynamic attack and the Springboks physicality, but South Africa took absolute control in the second half and look to be set, in both defense and attack, to make a real charge at winning back-to-back Webb Ellis Cups.

South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, De Klerk, Kitschoff, Marx, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi, Du Toit, Wiese.

Scotland: Kinghorn; Graham, Jones, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe, Russell, White; Schoeman, Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie Β©, Darge, Dempsey.

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