Scotland 20-26 South Africa: Handre Pollard stars as Springboks triumph at Murrayfield
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 17/11/18 7:45pm
South Africa withstood a valiant effort from Scotland to ensure they take momentum into their clash with Wales next weekend after winning 26-20 in an engrossing contest at Murrayfield.
There were three tries in a frantic opening 21 minutes as after Jesse Kriel finished off a sweeping move, Peter Horne sprinted onto Huw Jones' pass to level only for Handre Pollard to restore South Africa's advantage by dummying Sean Maitland for the visitors' second score.
A Greig Laidlaw penalty kept Scotland within touching distance before Hamish Watson went over the whitewash following an electrifying break from Stuart Hogg to bring the scores level.
Pollard's second penalty established a three-point half-time lead for the visitors before both he and Laidlaw added a penalty apiece in a cagier second period.
Despite Scotland's best efforts, their refusal to go for the posts proved a turning point and their hopes of a milestone victory were extinguished as Elton Jantjies took over the kicking duties to complete the scoring.
Scotland made a bright start, but it was South Africa with most of the ball even before they scored the most wondrous of tries to showcase the potential they've shown all autumn under Rassie Erasmus.
Scrum-half Embrose Papier wriggled clear after a stunning break from Pollard and three offloads that even involved the prop Steven Kitshoff resulted in Kriel plunging over for his 11th Test try from a metre out.
But Scotland were celebrating a sublime try of their own just four minutes later, with Jones - one of six changes to the side that beat Fiji - instrumental with his pass to Sean Maitland before taking the return and smartly switching inside to find the overlap from Horne.
Referee Romain Poite checked Jones' first pass wasn't forward, but after Laidlaw had restored parity with his conversion, Pollard immediately responded for the visitors as he took Willie Le Roux's pass to go over the whitewash to punish Scotland's attempt to try to run out from their own 22 metres.
Stuart Hogg was denied a brilliant solo try as he outstripped seven green shirts before his kick and chase forced Le Roux to find touch, but South Africa's relief was short-lived as from the line-out, McInally found Watson who nipped in to bring the scores level.
But Scotland's good work was undone at the scrum as Poitre penalised WP Nel to allow Pollard to kick the visitors 20-17 ahead two minutes before the interval.
Poitre handed Scotland a glorious opportunity to turn the game in their favour as Le Roux was sin-binned for what was perceived to be a deliberate knock-on as he sought to intercept a long pass from Horne to Tommy Seymour.
In controversial circumstances, Laidlaw immediately levelled with his fourth kick, but Scotland were unable to make their numerical advantage count as hands in the ruck from McInally allowed Pollard to nudge the Springboks back ahead.
Gregor Townsend wanted his side to show courage and they couldn't be accused of lacking ambition as Hogg kicked for the corner instead of taking the points, but the ensuing maul proved unsuccessful as South Africa's defensive effort earned them the scrum.
Pollard's perfect kicking record went horribly awry as after he struck a post from range, he scuffed his next effort low and wide to keep Scotland within three points with 13 minutes remaining. But Jantjies took over to extend their lead after Adam Hastings had been penalised for holding on, earning South Africa only their third win away from home this year.