Williams fumes over 'unacceptable' display as Scots revival stalls

Scotland 10 - South Africa 45
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The Independent Online

Showered and changed, and sitting comfortably in a seat in the Murrayfield interview room, Jaco van der Westhuyzen was asked whether the second of his three dropped goals - dispatched with supreme precision from a range of 45 metres - was the longest he had ever scored. "I think it's my first one," the man of the mismatch replied. "But I'd like to start, if I can, by saying thanks to my saviour, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play such a game today." A devout member of the Dutch Reform Church, Van der Westhuyzen might also have thanked his generous hosts.

Showered and changed, and sitting comfortably in a seat in the Murrayfield interview room, Jaco van der Westhuyzen was asked whether the second of his three dropped goals - dispatched with supreme precision from a range of 45 metres - was the longest he had ever scored. "I think it's my first one," the man of the mismatch replied. "But I'd like to start, if I can, by saying thanks to my saviour, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play such a game today." A devout member of the Dutch Reform Church, Van der Westhuyzen might also have thanked his generous hosts.

Right from his kick-off, when Jason White, Sean Lamont and Chris Cusiter all stood back and waited in vain for one another to gather possession, Scotland gave the Springbok fly-half and his colleagues every opportunity to play their game.

When Bryan Habana raced clear for the first of his two tries, just past the half-hour mark, he turned and stared behind in disbelief at his good fortune - either that or the fledgling wing was checking to see if the tartan wrapping paper had fallen from the gift of an interception he had taken on Scotland's 10m line.

Hugo Southwell's pitiful impression of a pass would have been out of place on a school pitch, let alone in an international arena. At least Habana had to stretch to snaffle Dan Parks' attempt at a pass before running in his second try, from a range of 70 metres in first-half injury time.

Scotland did not just throw the game away; they fumbled it too. They spilled so much ball they never got halfway near to the South African line with a threequarter line move. They even failed to cross it when the Springboks were down to 13 men, their lone try coming courtesy of CJ van der Linde, who dived in to kill the ball as the Scots rolled back a pack shorn of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha, who had been given yellow cards.

At that point, approaching half time, the deficit was down to 25-10 and South Africa were without any locks. Scotland, however, were without any basic security of their own. The door was wide open for Habana's second steal. Most damningly of all, even with 15 men against 13, the Scots were outscored 10-7.

After showing encouraging signs of progress since their Six Nations whitewashing in the spring, this was a huge step backwards for Scotland and their coach, Matt Williams, who offered even less of a defence off the pitch than his players had managed to muster upon it.

"That was totally, totally unacceptable," he said. "'Disappointed' doesn't begin to describe how I feel. We wanted to show how we'd improved [over the last three games] against South Africa but didn't. How we respond is important. We need everyone looking at the performance and recognising what was wrong."

Chris Paterson, the Scotland winger, was a little bit more upbeat. He said: "This was the last match of the series and unfortunately everyone will go away and remember this one rather than the other ones. But we'll look at this series as a block of four. It wasn't an acceptable performance but there were good signs in the previous games."

As for South Africa, in addition to the gifts that came their way, there were first-class scores by the powerful wing Jaque Fourie and the debutant flanker Solly Tbilika. There was also a brilliantly crafted try in the last minute, completed by van der Westhuyzen. No Grand Slam, then, for the Springboks, but a grandstand finish for their former Leicester Tiger.

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: M Blair (Edinburgh) for Cusiter, 14; S Macleod (Borders) for Hines, 20; J Petrie (Glasgow) for White, 65; G Ross (Leeds) for Parks, 66; B Douglas (Borders) for Kerr, 69, R Russell (London Irish) for Bulloch, 80; G Morrison (Glasgow) for Hinshelwood, 80.

SOUTH AFRICA: P Montgomery (Newport); J Fourie (Cats), M Joubert (Stormers), W Julies (Stormers), B Habana (Cats); J van der Westhuyzen (NEC Japan), F du Preez (Bulls); G Steenkamp (Cats), J Smit (Sharks, capt), C J van der Linde (Stormers), B Botha (Sharks), V Matfield (Bulls), S Tbilika (Lions), D Rossouw (Bulls), J van Niekerk (Stormers). Replacements: G Britz (Bulls) for Van Niekerk, 30-32, for Matfield, 74; J Cronje (Bulls) for Van Niekerk, 45-49, 64; O du Randt (Cats) for Steenkamp, 66; D Coetzee (Bulls) for Van der Linde, 80; M Claasens (Cats) for D Preez, 83; G Bobo (Cats) for Julies, 88; G du Toit (Sharks) for Joubert, 80.

Referee: N Williams (Wales).

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