South Africa 29 Scotland 15: Montgomery spares Boks' blushes

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The Independent Online

Scotland were sent homeward "tae think again", but they gave the Springboks just as much to ponder in a messy, disrupted Test match.

The optimism generated by Six Nations wins over France and England has been shown to be premature on this tour. Frank Hadden's men do not have the firepower out wide to expose the southern-hemisphere nations, nor the scrummaging strength to assert any authority over a team as powerful as the Springboks.

On a day that started in warm sunshine but finished in thick mist, both sides looked like men lost in a fog. The South Africans conceded two tries to one and were lucky to see Chris Paterson denied a third after 59 minutes. Following an interception, the English referee, Tony Spreadbury, called play back to the Scottish line for a doubtful knock-on by Simon Webster.

South Africa scored from that position, the scrum-half Fourie du Preez driving between Gordon Ross and Webster to reach the line. It was a 12-point turnaround to the Springboks at a crucial time.

Neither side had much to be satisfied about. Both sets of backs looked inept, trying to run absurd angles off slow, poorly delivered ball. The Scottish line-out lost several balls, but South Africa lost three of their own. The Scots disrupted South Africa with their traditionally canny work in the loose. They spoiled and slowed down the ball and mistakes proliferated. South Africa were relieved that their full-back Percy Montgomery was again in excellent goal-kicking form, landing seven penalties and missing only the conversion of Du Preez's try.

South Africa were ahead after two minutes, when John Petrie was penalised for offside, and Montgomery quickly added a second goal, again for offside. But then Gordon Ross slid a grubber kick past a flat defence, Breyton Paulse didn't react and Webster scored without a hand laid on him.

By half-time, South Africa had landed two more goals, after 16 and 24 minutes - one by Mont-gomery and a 53-metre effort by Jaco van der Westhuyzen - to make it 12-5. South Africa had enjoyed a huge advantage in the scrums, where the veteran Os du Randt had an immense match, but they could not crack a clever Scottish defence.

Montgomery slotted a 45th-minute penalty before Paterson replied in kind. A deliberate knock-down by the Scots cost them a fifth penalty before Du Preez's try, which came from a cleverly wheeled scrum. The Springboks' back play still looked abject but Scotland's frequent infringements kept the Boks' noses in front.

The substitute flanker Donnie Macfadyen gave the Scots hope with a 70th-minute try when Van der Westhuyzen dropped a pass from Paulse behind his own line. Paterson converted to make it 23-15 with 10 minutes left, but further Scottish indiscipline handed Montgomery two more penalties.

South Africa: P Montgomery; B Paulse (G du Toit, 71), A Snyman, W Olivier, B Habana; J van der Westhuyzen, F du Preez (E Januarie, 74); O du Randt (E Andrews, 73), J Smit (capt), E Andrews (CJ van der Linde, 50), D Rossouw, V Matfield, S Burger, J van Niekerk (J Cronje, 61), J Smith.

Scotland: H Southwell; C Paterson, M Di Rollo, A Henderson (B MacDougall, 67), S Webster; G Ross, M Blair; G Kerr, D Hall (S Lawson, 65), C Smith (B Douglas, 54), N Hines, A Kellock, J White (capt), J Petrie (K Brown, 54), A Hogg (D Macfadyen, 67).

Referee: A Spreadbury (England).