Rassie Erasmus praised the Springboks’ growing maturity after their hard-fought 26-20 victory over Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.
The Boks held a 20-17 half-time lead over the enterprising Scots after a thrilling opening half, which saw both sides display some good attacking rugby. Penalties from flyhalves Handré Pollard and Elton Jantjies eventually clinched the match for the Springboks.
Pollard put in a Man of the Match display, scoring 18 points to see him go past former wing Bryan Habana in the Springboks’ all-time point-scoring list.
Erasmus was full of praise for his charges, who became just the second team to beat Scotland in 11 Tests at Murrayfield.
‘To beat a team that has become a real force in world rugby, a team that is on up, in the middle of a good home run, is satisfying,’ Erasmus said.
‘The current world rankings don’t indicate how tough it is to come and play here and we could have lost the game in the dying minutes. We’re definitely not the finished product yet, but we are slowly growing into a better team.
‘We did well at the breakdown, especially our work at the defensive breakdown where we managed to win vital turnovers at important times.’
What made the win more impressive was that the Boks managed to hold on to their lead despite losing fullback Willie le Roux to a yellow card for a supposed deliberate knockdown in the second half.
‘We’re learning how to close out games and that’s why we won this game because Scotland were as good as us on the day,’ Erasmus added. ‘The maturity of this team is starting to show because we are now winning games from tight situations. We scored three points when Willie le Roux was off the field with a yellow card and they didn’t score.’
Erasmus also lauded 21-year-old scrumhalf Embrose Papier, who made his first start in the No 9 jersey for the Springboks and had a good game next to Bulls teammate Pollard.
‘I really think that in the case of Embrose, we got it right. We thought this was the right game for him, on this pitch and the way Scotland play suits him well, and he also handled it very well. Credit must also go to [assistant coaches] Mzwandile Stick and Swys de Bruin for the way they’ve blooded him into Test-match rugby.’
Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP