Springboks return to basics to avoid 'complete disaster'

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The Independent Online

It has been a good week for Blackadder in the Scottish capital. On Tuesday it was announced that Todd Blackadder, the Kiwi flanker, had secured promotion to the post of forwards coach with the Edinburgh Gunners. It remains to be seen, though, whether the plan formulated by the visiting Springboks and their coach proves to be of the cunning Baldrick variety.

It has been a good week for Blackadder in the Scottish capital. On Tuesday it was announced that Todd Blackadder, the Kiwi flanker, had secured promotion to the post of forwards coach with the Edinburgh Gunners. It remains to be seen, though, whether the plan formulated by the visiting Springboks and their coach proves to be of the cunning Baldrick variety.

In making seven changes to the team beaten 32-16 by England at Twickenham last Saturday, Jake White had one eye on the immediate challenge posed by Scotland at Murrayfield today but the other one fixed firmly on the final leg of his squad's tour in Buenos Aires a week today. The Pumas having subjected France to a 24-14 mauling in Marseille last Saturday, White wanted to save Schalk Burger and others for the apparently bigger challenge of Argentina. That, however, was before it emerged yesterday that the Pumas would probably be 10 men short of their first-choice XV after the refusal of most French clubs to release their Argentinian players from Heineken Cup duty.

All of which leaves White fielding an experimental side against a Scotland XV who could be sensing a repeat of a little bit of history. Scotland's only win in 22 years against one of the southern hemisphere's big three came two years ago at Murrayfield against a South African side featuring three full debutants and two new starters. The Springboks today will have two debutants, Gurthro Steenkamp and Solly Tyibilika, plus one new starter, Bryan Habana.

Having set off from Johannesburg with Grand Slam aspirations, after sneaking past Wales and tripping up against Ireland and England, the Tri-Nations champions are facing the prospect of their European adventure turning into an embarrassing Grand Slump.

As their captain, John Smit, conceded: "It is vital that we win the two remaining games and save the tour from being a complete disaster. If we return home having won three out of five, we would have salvaged something. The game against Scotland will be a chance to apply what we have learned from this tour."

In other words, having failed to replicate their more fluent Tri-Nations form in the wet and mud of Europe, the Boks will be striving to get back to basics with the kind of tight game with which the Scots themselves succeeded in squeezing the creative life out of Rudi Straeuli's hapless tourists two years ago.

Scotland: H Southwell (Edinburgh); C Paterson (Edinburgh), B Hinshelwood (Worcester), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Lamont (Glasgow); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Borders); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), G Bulloch (Glasgow, capt), G Kerr (Leeds), S Grimes (Newcastle), N Hines (Edinburgh), J White (Sale), D Macfadyen (Glasgow), A Hogg (Edinburgh). Replacements: R Russell (London Irish), B Douglas (Borders), S MacLeod (Borders), J Petrie (Glasgow), M Blair (Edinburgh), G Ross (Leeds), G Morrison (Glasgow).

South Africa: P Montgomery (Newport-Gwent); J Fourie (Lions), M Joubert (Western Province), W Julies (SWD Eagles), B Habana (Blue Bulls); J van der Westhuyzen (NEC Japan), F du Preez (Blue Bulls); G Steenkamp (Natal), J Smit (Natal, capt), C J van der Linde (Cheetahs), B Botha (Blue Bulls), V Matfield (Blue Bulls), S Tyibilika (Natal), D Rossouw (Blue Bulls), J van Niekerki (W Province). Replacements: D Coetzee (Blue Bulls), O du Randt (Cheetahs), G Britz (Cheetahs), J Croje (Blue Bulls), M Claasens (Cheetahs), G Bobo (Lions), G du Toit (W Province).

Referee: N Whitehouse (Wales).

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