MARSEILLE, France, Sept 10 — South Africa got the defence of their title off to an impressive start on Sunday when a second-half surge allowed them to overpower a toothless Scotland 18-3 to move into a strong position in the World Cup’s “group of death”.
In a tense first half, two Manie Libbok penalties had South Africa ahead but a morale-boosting scrum penalty shortly before halftime, slotted by Finn Russell, gave the Scots a real lift as they headed into the changing rooms 6-3 down and still dreaming of an upset.
The Springboks, however, came out with a new intensity and two tries within three minutes effectively settled the outcome.
A typically powerful set of ball carries eventually created the space for Pieter Steph du Toit to charge over and then a brilliantly disguised Libbok kick found Kurt-Lee Arendse inexplicably in acres of space to catch and fall over the line and the shell-shocked Scots never looked able to mount any sort of comeback.
South Africa will now be highly fancied to progress to the quarter-finals while Scotland, ranked fifth in the world, are likely to need to beat world number one Ireland to avoid a pool-stage exit.