A stunning first-half display from fullback Willie le Roux helped South Africa to a comfortable 28-0 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Sunday.
Scotland looked to have fought back from Willem Alberts’ early try and were attempting to gain a foothold in the match when Le Roux, playing just his 11th Test, scored an opportunist try.
He then brilliantly set up J.P. Pietersen for another in a three-minute period that effectively sealed the match before halftime.
The only try of the second half came through Coenie Oosthuizen as Scotland were kept pointless by the Springboks for the fist time home or away since 1951.
Scotland suffered from a misfiring lineout, losing five throws in the first 40 minutes, while the ’Boks, who had veteran lock Bakkies Botha playing his first Test since the 2011 World Cup, played fluent rugby on the back of a strong forward effort.
The visitors, who beat Wales 24-15 the previous weekend, dominated early possession and territory, while Scotland had barely touched the ball when they fell behind after four minutes when Alberts drove through weak defense from a lineout.
Scotland slowly dragged themselves back into the contest through dogged defense, but their first real attacking effort was thwarted when Sean Maitland failed to control a pass from Ruaridh Jackson just after the half-hour mark, allowing Le Roux to scoop up the ball and race 60m to score.
“The ball bounced into my hands and I was lucky to be there to score my try,” Le Roux, who plays in the Super XV for the Cheetahs, told the BBC. “You don’t know when it will be your last game, so you have to play every game as though it is your last.”
Le Roux then turned creator from the restart, easing through a gap in the defense before side-stepping another attempted tackle and kicking ahead for wing Pietersen, who celebrated his 50th cap by shrugging off the covering defense to score in the corner.
“It is an amazing achievement, and to play it at Murrayfield is something I will treasure for the rest of my life,” Pietersen said. “We wanted to step up this weekend and we did that. We executed the game plan well. The conditions didn’t suit us, but we took the opportunities we had.”
Scotland showed more attacking endeavor in the second half, despite the poor condition of the pitch, but failed to seriously threaten the South Africa line and once again they paid the price when replacement prop Oosthuizen drove over on the back of another dominant lineout after 52 minutes.
The hosts were boosted by a yellow card to replacement flanker Marcell Coetzee with 10 minutes remaining following a series of infringements, but despite playing with only 14 men the Springboks defense held firm.
David Denton went close to earning Scotland a try, but was tackled into touch by Pietersen, while Max Evans was denied by the outstretched hand of Bryan Habana following a lengthy injury break for flanker Francois Louw, who was taken off on a stretcher after contact with Jim Hamilton.
Scotland host Australia in the final match of their opponents tour at the weekend, while South Africa take on France in Paris.