Rugby Union: Shepherd follows Chalmers home

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The Independent Online
Gauteng Lions 42 Scotland 20

Scotland's tour to South Africa was last night dealt a devastating double blow with the announcement that stand-off Craig Chalmers and full-back Rowen Shepherd, two of the most senior players in the squad, will return home.

Chalmers further damaged his injured hamstring in training yesterday, while Shepherd suffered a rib injury in the defeat by Gauteng Lions at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

The Scotland manager, Doug Morgan said: "Craig tested the hamstring strain an hour before the team left for Ellis Park, but the muscle pulled once more and sadly we had to inform Craig that he would be going home."

There is also a possibility that tour skipper and scrum-half Andrew Nicol could be on the plane back to Scotland as well following an injury to his midriff in last night's game. "We don't know the extent of Andy's injuries as yet," admitted Morgan.

Scotland's management have not yet decided who will replace Chalmers and Shepherd, but the loss of such quality players at this early stage of the tour will clearly cause them problems.

Scotland were exposed to the harsh realities of South African provincial rugby by the Gauteng Lions last night. The South African Super 12 side were both slicker in attack and tighter in defence than a touring team that are still finding their feet in the thin air of the high veld.

Scotland, however, gave a promise of better things to come on the tour with a number of positive contributions, most notably from the young centre Cameron Murray and replacement full-back Hugh Gilmour.

The Scots were caught cold in the opening exchanges as Gauteng ran the ball for former Springboks hooker Chris Rossouw to slip through for a try. The South African side extended the lead with a penalty goal from full-back Dawie du Toit but the Scots hit back with a similar effort from Shepherd.

Scotland closed the gap further when stand-off Duncan Hodge kicked his first goal. But before the interval the Lions opened up the gap again with a second from du Toit and then a try in the third minute of injury- time by Springboks centre Joe Gillingham, converted by du Toit.

When Rossouw scored his second try from a marvellous piece of flowing rugby and du Toit added the conversion, it looked as though Scotland might be buried.

Gauteng skipper Kobus Wiese was driven over from a line-out in the corner but then Newcastle No 8 Peter Walton began the Scots' revival with a try from a clever penalty move, and Hodge added the conversion. Then replacement George Graham combined with hooker Steve Brotherstone to send Gilmour in under the posts.

Hodge again converted but in the final 10 minutes Gauteng pulled away once more with a second try from Viese and then a late score from Naude, du Toit adding the conversion.

Gauteng Lions: Tries Rossouw 2, Viese 2, Gillingham, Naude; Conversions Du Toit 3; Penalties Du Toit 2. Scotland: Tries Gilmour, Walton; Conversions Hodge 2; Penalties Hodge, Shepherd.