Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries as world champions South Africa ground out a 30-15 win over Scotland in typical fashion at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Scotland had led 10-8 at the break after a try by captain Stuart Hogg but Mapimpi’s converted score early in the second period saw the Springboks go five points clear.
With South Africa’s renowned forwards increasingly dominant, Elton Jantjies then extended the lead with two further penalties to leave the Springboks well in front at 21-10.
Hogg’s second try reduced the Springboks’ lead to five points but several further penalties, with Handre Pollard and Frans Steyn also getting on the scoreboard, helped South Africa record their seventh successive victory over Scotland.
South Africa, who opened their European campaign with a 23-18 win over Wales last week, round off their year against England at Twickenham on November 20 in a repeat of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.
“I thought they (Scotland) had the edge in the first half but we were able to go back to what we know,” South Africa captain Siya Kolisi told Amazon Prime after a second half the Springboks ‘won’ 22-5.
“The physicality is always the ultimate thing for us, and I’m so happy we were able to bring that through in the second half,” he added.
Hogg, meanwhile, was left to rue Scotland’s high penalty count.
“Gutted, because at half-time we felt we were fully in control of the game,” he said.
“But unfortunately we were then second best.
“You can’t give a team like South Africa, the world champions, easy avenues into the game.”
South Africa dominated territory and possession in the opening quarter, with their pack on top at the scrum.
Yet it was Scotland who scored the first points of the match in the 17th minute when fly-half Russell kicked a 40-metre penalty before Jantjies replied soon afterwards.
And they took the lead in the 28th minute.
Kolisi drew Rufus McLean before his well-timed pass released Mapimpi, a World Cup final try-scorer, with the wing going in at the left corner
Jantjies scuffed the conversion but South Africa led 8-3.
– Russell off day –
Scotland, however, hit back five minutes before half-time with a superb try created by some typically inventive play from Russell.
His clever cross-field kick found Duhan van der Merwe, with the South Africa-born winger doing well to flick the ball back into play.
Russell then combined expertly with centre Chris Harris before, after a quick handling movement, full-back Hogg collected a bouncing ball for a try.
And with Russell landing the conversion, Scotland led 10-8 at the interval after Russell pulled a penalty with the last kick of the half.
South Africa kept Scotland deep inside their 22 early in the second half and the pressure led to another try for Mapimpi.
Lukhanyo Am fielded a loose ball and counter-attacked.
The ball was worked across the field before Damien de Allende expertly-timed pass sent Mapimpi in for a 43rd-minute score.
The Springboks went 15-10 ahead following Jantjies’s conversion.
And they went two scores in front after Hogg was penalised for a ‘seatbelt tackle’, before another penalty put the visitors 11 points clear.
But heading into the final quarter, Scotland, who face Japan next week, hit back thanks to Hogg’s second try.
After declining a kickable penalty, Russell drew a defender and shipped the ball on to van der Merwe.
His flipped pass over the top of the cover found Hogg, with the skipper’s angled run seeing him go in at the corner, with his 24th try for Scotland equalling the national record shared Tony Stanger and Ian Smith.
But with Russell missing the conversion, his third off-target goal-kick of the match, South Africa were still 21-15 ahead.
With South Africa dominating the scrum and the breakdown as lock Eben Etzebeth led the way, the Springboks strengthened their grip by forcing several more penalties. @AFP
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