Written by @QuintenLetcher for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
South Africa vs Scotland | Saturday 15 June | Mbombela Stadium | 17:15
This Saturday provides a feast for the locals of Nelspruit as their Mbombela Stadium, never before used for test rugby, will host the second of the three double-headers that form the Castle Incoming Series. The Springboks will be pleased with their conclusive dismissal of the Azzurri last weekend at Kings Park in a game that showed how lethal the South African backline can be when they start moving the ball around. With a mix of exciting young talent like Willie le Roux combined with the return to form of veterans such as Bryan Habana and Morne Steyn, the Springboks looked convincing out in the middle for the first time in a long while. The Boks still have much to improve on if they wish to pose a serious threat to the stronger unions in the Rugby Championship later this year, but they have given themselves an impressive start to build on.
Scotland had the misfortune of running into a predictably physical Samoan side in Durban last week in a game that I am sure coach Scott Johnson would rather forget. Besides being Scotland’s first ever loss to the Samoans, the 27-17 outcome in Durban has also resulted in Scotland dropping out of the IRB top ten rankings. Scotland will need to address the evident problems with their defence before they run out against the confident, innovative backline that had its way with Italy last weekend. But with a relatively new coach, and a young, talented squad still working out which direction they need to be moving in, South Africa would be wise to refrain from underestimating the Scots. Just because they haven’t clicked yet within their new setup, doesn’t mean it is not going to happen at some point.
To Win (80mins)
South Africa 1/100
South Africa (-28.5) 9/10
Scotland (+28.5) 9/10
The Springboks have named five changes to their 23-man squad for this week’s clash, two of those changes being made to the run on side. Ruan Pienaar will start at scrumhalf in place of the injured Jano Vermaak, while in the forwards Marcell Coetzee takes over from Francois Louw as he prepares for his wedding on Sunday. This week also sees the anticipated return of hooker Bismarck du Plessis to international rugby, as he has been named on the bench after ten months off with a knee injury. He is joined on the bench by loose forward Siya Kolas and scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, both uncapped going into this game.
Scotland has been hit hard with injuries in the aftermath of their brutal encounter with the Samoans last week, with captain Kelly Brown, hooker Pat MacArthur and prop Geoff Cross all sent home. Fraser Brown, Glasgow’s recent acquisition at hooker, has been called up to replace MacArthur, while Jon Welsh comes over to join the squad in place of Geoff Cross. Naturally Scott Johnson has decided to hold off on the announcement of his final match-day 23 as he awaits news on the fitness of several other players battling with minor injuries.
VERDICT: Scotland (+28.5) 9/10
With the Springboks finally realising how much easier it is to score tries when you aren’t afraid to spread the ball, they should have themselves a field day this weekend if the Scots show up with the same non-existent defence that embarrassed them against Samoa. With the Scottish front row falling apart thanks to injuries sustained at Kings Park, the powerful Springbok forwards will help the home side dominate in every facet of the game in Nelspruit this Saturday. Despite all this, I am still weary of underestimating the young Scots, so although a Springbok victory is inevitable, I’ll keep my prediction to a modest 15 points and bravely back the plucky Scotsmen to keep the Boks within the handicap.
Think we've got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this is going to play out.
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