Parks' magnificent seven leaves Scotland on a high

Scotland 21 South Africa 17: Fly-half puts boot in to restore pride against world-champion Springboks
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The Independent Online

The previous Saturday Rory Lawson had sat behind the glass of the coaches' box in the back of the West Stand here, temporarily incapacitated by an injured hand, watching the All Blacks inflict a 49-3 defeat on his Scotland team-mates. Yesterday the Gloucester scrum-half was out in the thick of it, leading his country for the first time. When the 80 minutes were up, this time there was no pained expression.

It was Lawson who brought proceedings to a close, and as he hoofed the ball into touch the Scotland captain broke into a winning smile,raising both arms in triumph. Itwas a moment for Bill McLaren's grandson to savour. They were dancing on the rain-sodden streets of Edinburgh last night.

From the depths of a record margin of defeat against the world'sNo 1 side, Scotland soared to the heights of a famous victory against the world champions. The Springboks might have been missing several major players but they arrived in Edinburgh half the way towards a European Grand Slam. Lawson and his team-mates succeeded where both Ireland and Wales had failed, becoming only the second Scotland side to claim the scalp of South Africa in 41 years.

All of the points came from the right boot of their outside-half, Dan Parks – six penalties and a drop goal – but as Andy Robinson, Scotland's head coach, reflected: "It was a huge team effort, led by Rory."

It was that. Lawson and his colleagues were 6-0 down after 13 minutes, to two Morne Steyn penalties, but steadily clawed their way in front. They did so with Parks landing a penalty from 25 metres out and then nailing a drop goal from a similar range.

Parks proceeded to kick two more penalties, leaving Robinson's men12-6 up and on something of a roll. Even the loss of the lock Scott MacLeod to a rib injury failed to knock them out of their stride, Nathan Hines shifting from the blindside flank to the second row and Richie Vernon emerging from bench duty to play a blinder alongside John Barclay and Kelly Brown in the back row.

Two Morne Steyn penalties either side of half-time levelled the scores at 12-12 but a big drive launched by Vernon, and carried on by the debutant centre Joe Ansbro, drew the South Africans offside and penalty number four from Parks put Scotland back in front with 54 minutes on the clock. They were to stay there, Lawson's half-back partner converting two further penalties.

The Springboks did manage to cross the home whitewash, the big back- row replacement Warren Alberts barging over from a line-out in the left corner with nine minutes to go. The conversion attempt by the replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie, flew wide.

Asked how his mood after the four-point victory compared to that after the walloping of a week ago, Robinson summoned a wry smile. "It's similar," he replied. "Pleasure and pain are very close, aren't they?"

Scotland H Southwell (Stade Français); N Walker (Ospreys), J Ansbro (Northampton), G Morrison (Glasgow), S Lamont (Scarlets); D Parks (Glasgow), R Lawson (Capt, Gloucester); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton), S MacLeod (Edinburgh), R Gray (Glasgow), N Hines (Leinster), J Barclay (Glasgow), K Brown (Saracens). Replacements R Vernon (Glasgow) for MacLeod, 35; D Hall (Glasgow) for Ford, 68; M Low (Glasgow) for Murray, 68; C Paterson (Edinburgh) for Walker, 74; R Rennie (Edinburgh) for Brown, 79.

South Africa Z Kirchner (Blue Bulls); G Aplon (Western Province), F Steyn (Racing Metro), J de Villiers (W Province), L Mvovo (Sharks); M Steyn (Blue Bulls), F Hougard (Blue Bulls); T Mtawarira (Blue Bulls), B du Plessis (Sharks), J du Plessis (Sharks), B Botha (Blue Bulls), V Matfield (capt, Blue Bulls), D Stegmann (Blue Bulls), J Smith (Cheetahs), R Kankowski (Sharks). Replacements W Alberts (Sharks) for Stegmann, 47; R Pienaar (Ulster) for Hougaard, 47; P Lambie (Sharks) for M Steyn, 64; F van der Merwe (Blue Bulls) for Botha, 65; CJ van der Linde (Cheetahs) for Mtawarira, 73; A Strauss (Cheetahs) for B du Plessis, 74.

Referee S Dickinson (Australia).