IRB Rugby World Cup 2015: South Africa v Scotland Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

South Africa v Scotland | Saturday 3 October | St James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne | 17:45

The battle for pool B supremacy reaches its climax on Saturday evening with an encounter between table toppers, Scotland, and the second placed Springboks.

With many Scottish rugby fans making the short trip across the border to Newcastle, the Scots' will enjoy the support of a large travelling contingent at St James' Park. Vern Cotter’s charges are going to need that support if they are to overcome a vastly improved, if somewhat injury hit, Springbok side.
With a first place finish likely to be secured for the winner of this match-up expect to see a hard-fought affair on Saturday evening.

To Win (80 Mins)
South Africa  1/8
Draw  25/1
Scotland  5/1

South Africa (-14.5) 9/10
Scotland (+14.5) 9/10

South Africa

There was an air of jubilation floating around the Springbok camp when the final whistle went at
Villa Park last Saturday. The smiles would soon turn to grimaces, however, as it was confirmed that skipper, Jean de Villiers would miss the remainder of the World Cup due to a broken jaw. While the loss of de Villiers is a massive blow, there is a positive omen to it. The last time the Springbok talisman picked up a tournament-ending injury against the Samoans at a World Cup, the ‘Boks went on to win the showpiece event.

The skipper's place in the squad has been taken by Blue Bulls' centre Jan Serfontein. While Serfontein has experience at international level his lack of game time, this year, is a cause for concern. Thankfully though, Jessie Kriel and Damien de Allende have recovered from the injuries that they sustained against the Samoans, and will renew their blossoming partnership this weekend. Fourie du Preez will skipper the side after a hamstring strain ruled vice-captain, Victor Matfield out of the game.

The South Africans have won 20 of the 25 tests the two sides have played and average 26.08 points per game. On top of this, the ‘Boks have won the only World Cup encounter between the two sides. The match occurred at the 1999 tournament and saw the South Africans run out 46 to 29 victors.


The Scots have been 2015’s poster boys for peaking at the right time. A miserable Six Nations campaign saw them finish the tournament at the foot of the log. While they did show signs of improvement during their World Cup warm-up games, I really didn’t foresee them starting the World Cup so brightly. Vern Cotter’s side have walked away from their opening two games with a full points haul, which has led to them opening up a three-point gap between themselves and, the second placed South African’s on the log. While they emphatically dispatched the two minnow sides, the real yardstick for the Scot’s will come against the South Africans.

Like his counterpart, Cotter has had to deal with losing one of his more influential players this week. Lock, Grant Gilchrist will miss the rest of the tournament with a groin injury. He is likely to be replaced in the run-on XV for this match by Tim Swinson.  Another injury concern for the Scot’s is pivot Finn Russel. The talismanic ten has been on crutches since Saturday but may take to the field according to some of Cotter’s statements. The Scotland mentor may look to make some strategic changes to his side, particularly in the pack. He has three fluent Afrikaans speaking South Africans in the squad and may look to use them in an effort to nullify the ‘Boks at line out time.

The Scots points per game average sits at 10.8, which is significantly lower than the ‘Boks average haul. They have also never beaten the South Africans outside of Scotland.

Verdict: South Africa (-14.5) 9/10
Newcastle may be a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh but I don’t think that will have any effect on the outcome of this one.

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