South Africa 55 Scotland 6: Vern Cotter looks to positives after heavy loss

South Africa 55 Scotland 6: Vern Cotter looking to positives despite heaving loss to Springboks

By Gareth Llewellyn
South Africa

Vern Cotter insisted there are positive to take after his depleted Scotland team were thrashed 55-6 by South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

The Scotland head coach saw his 100% winning run come to an end as the eight-try defeat showed up a stark difference in the quality of the respective nations’ fringe players as Springboks newcomers Lwazi Mvovo and Lood de Jaager both bagged two tries and 20-year-old outside-half Handré Pollard was solid on debut.

It was a brave effort, the guys never gave up. Now it is a question of channelling energy and decision-making in the right way

Vern Cotter

After wins against the USA, Canada and Argentina, the final match of Scotland’s tour was a step too far for a contest taking place outside of the IRB international window with a weak and out-of-sorts defence unable to live with South Africa’s running rugby.

“It illustrated a lot of the things we are going to have to go away and work on to become competitive before the Rugby World Cup,” said Cotter.

“Honestly, much as we hate losing—especially by a score like that—there are some very positive things to come out of it.

“Adam Ashe played his first game at 20, Grant Gilchrist has come in as captain and done exceptionally well. I think all the players have done well.

“It was a brave effort, the guys never gave up. Now it is a question of channelling energy and decision-making in the right way.”

Despite the loss of a number of senior players, Scotland had a team with a sense of familiarity. An experienced front row—boasting 142 caps between them ahead of the match—have played together at Edinburgh for some time along with lock Grant Gilchrist, who was again captain and lineout caller.

The entire backline was a Glasgow Warriors party gatecrashed by former Edinburgh outside centre Nick de Luca, making his 43rd Test appearance with late second-half cameos from Edinburgh scrum-half Grayson Hart and winger Dougie Fife.

South Africa also had new-look combinations: Mvovo and Cornal Hendricks on the wings, JP Pietersen and Jan Serfontein still a new centre partnership, and Pollard with scrum-halves Fourie du Preez then Francois Hougaard new partnerships at half-back.

The gruelling globe-trotting tour has offered the former Clermont Auvergne coach an opportunity to see first-hand many of the players available to him ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup—where South Africa will be among their Pool B opponents—with two squads selected for the four matches, and the New Zealander is convinced there is plenty of room for improvement.

“If we take away what we gave South Africa and add more of what we tried to develop on the field, then we can improve,” Cotter added.

“We have to keep doing the good things and take away the bad stuff we didn’t do well.

“If we don’t offer as many opportunities to the opposition as we did today then we can shift in the right direction.”


MORE: The latest football news

MORE: The latest tennis news

BIOGRAPHY: Mohamed Salah

The Sport Review
Grigor Dimitrov beats David Goffin to win his biggest title, ‘But I still have a lot to give’
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 25 footballers’ cars: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid players feature
The Sport Review
Top 20 Nigerian footballers in Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal player wages 2017: Do you know how much Xhaka, Ozil and Coquelin earn each week?
The Sport Review
Thierry Henry: How Mesut Ozil set the tone for Arsenal’s derby win
The Sport Review
Antonio Conte opens up about Eden Hazard ahead of Qarabag v Chelsea
The Sport Review
Andy Cole tells Man United boss how to get the best out of Anthony Martial