South Africa expect Scotland to play like Super Rugby side


Autumn Test: Scotland v South Africa
Venue: Murrayfield, Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 17:20 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Television, listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

South Africa expect Scotland to provide more of a “Super Rugby-style” test at Murrayfield as the visitors aim to build on a dramatic win over France.

The Springboks were unfortunate to lose to England in the first match of their autumn tour but rallied from 23-9 down to win 26-23 in Paris in injury time.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus anticipates a “very big test” against Gregor Townsend’s side, who beat Fiji 54-17.

“They play a more southern hemisphere-style of play,” Erasmus said.

“It looks like it will be fairly dry on Saturday and Scotland are definitely a team that play very well tactically.

“They are not afraid to attack from anywhere – that is the way Gregor coaches.

“So it is a totally different challenge from France, with their big-moment players, and England with their kicking game. Scotland have a mix of both of them.”

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Scotland have not faced South Africa since the 2015 World Cup, when the Springboks prevailed 34-16 in their pool encounter while the visitors won 28-0 on their last visit to Murrayfield in 2013.

Erasmus, who won 36 caps as a marauding flanker from 1997 to 2001, is familiar with Townsend from a 17-month stint at Munster in 2016-17, when the Scotland head coach was still in charge of Glasgow.

The Irish outfit beat the Warriors in all four of their encounters that season, with victories home and away in the European Champions Cup pool stages as well as both their league meetings.

“I know how he coaches and his style of coaching is certainly all about a fit team who are well organised in all facets of the game,” Erasmus noted.

“We played Glasgow four times in the same season and none of them were easy games, so I know about what he likes to do, but it’s the same for him – he knows the way we are coaching.

“Scotland have a lot of Glasgow players in their team, so I know it is going to be tough.”

Townsend v Erasmus – 2016-17 season
22/10/16: Munster 38-17 Glasgow (ECC) 14/01/17: Glasgow 12-14 Munster (ECC)
02/12/16: Glasgow 15-16 Munster (Pro12) 08/04/17: Munster 10-7 Glasgow (Pro12)

‘We have that belief we can come back’

Erasmus could welcome back key lock Eben Etzebeth, who was forced off against England with a foot injury and missed the victory in Paris.

Tight-head props Frans Malherbe and Vincent Koch are both expected to recover from knocks, but number eight Warren Whiteley is “probably doubtful” with a calf problem.

Erasmus believes his side played better in defeat against England – “but we didn’t finish opportunities” – than they did in victory over France, when they “weren’t good in our decision-making”.

“We got the balance wrong between when to run things and when to box-kick, but maybe that was down to pressure and the weather and losing the previous two matches [both against England],” he added.

“At times, we had a bit of tunnel vision and played within ourselves, so I have no doubt we can improve against Scotland.

“Sometimes the result blurs your view and the improvement being made, but there have been four or five matches this year when we have been down and out. In this team, we do have that belief that we can come back, even in the England game.

“But you don’t always have to come back; sometimes it would be nice to lead from the beginning. It’s good to have it, but it shouldn’t be a trend in your team.”

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