Internationals: Scotland face tough examination against South Africa

Scotland snatched a late win over Argentina last weekend
Scotland snatched a late win over Argentina last weekend

Simon Mail previews this weekend's international where Scotland's unbeaten start under Vern Cotter is under threat against the Springboks...

"The last two away defeats in South Africa for Scotland were by 13 and 14 points so there was not a huge gulf in terms of the scoring."

South Africa v Scotland
Saturday June 28, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports 3

Scotland play their final game of the season this weekend when they face a daunting match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. It has been a promising start under new head coach Vern Cotter with victories in all three matches. Scotland opened with a win over USA before beating Canada and Argentina.

In last weekend's match, Scotland left it late to snatch a 21-19 win over the Pumas. It looked like Cotter was going to taste defeat for the first time since taking charge this summer but a late penalty from Duncan Weir was enough to edge the visitors to victory. The Scots fielded an inexperienced side in Argentina which will face a much stiffer test against the Springboks.

Scotland have made four changes from the team which came out on top against the Pumas. Flanker Adam Ashe will make his debut despite having yet to make his first start for his club Glasgow Warriors. Scrum-half Henry Pyrgos replaces Grayson Hart while lock Tim Swinson starts ahead of Jonny Gray. The only other change sees flanker Chris Fusaro come in for Blair Cowan.

The Springboks had a huge scare last weekend when they were on the brink of a shock home defeat to Wales. Trailing 17-0 and 30-17, South Africa were in real trouble but a late penalty try helped them snatch a 31-30 win over Warren Gatland's side. The Springboks eased to victory over Wales in the first Test but there were signs of complacency in the second match.

Head coach Heyneke Meyer has made six changes to the side following their dramatic win over Wales. Handre Pollard wins his first cap as the IRB Junior World Player of the Year gets a chance to make an impression at fly-half. Seven overseas players have been released from the squad which means key figures such as Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha are not involved.

The weight of history is against Scotland with all six matches between the sides in South Africa being won by the home side. The last two away defeats were by 13 and 14 points so there was not a huge gulf in terms of the scoring. Scotland will want to put on a better showing than in the last match between them when they were beaten 28-0 at Murrayfield back in November. 

South Africa are overwhelming favourites for this match and you can understand why but they made hard work of living up to this status last week. The Scots are unbeaten under Cotter and will not want to give up this record lightly. But it is hard to see a young Scotland team pulling off a miraculous win. That said, a handicap advantage to the visitors of 25 points is extremely generous and should be snapped up. 

Two of Scotland's last four defeats against South Africa have been by 11 points or less so there is certainly no guarantee that the Springboks will blow away their opponents. There are a lot of newcomers featuring on both teams which could prevent either side from finding their fluency. With this in mind, backing a narrow home win, especially after struggling against Wales, could be another decent spot of value.  

Recommended Bets:
Back Scotland +25 in the Sportsbook at 2.01/1
Back South Africa to win by under 12.5 points at 3.259/4

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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