It feels like a pool B decider and it may very well be the decider. Scotland still have to face Samoa. It is hard to tell if the loss to South Africa by the Pacific-Islanders would have broken their spirit or strengthened their resolve. By the time Scotland play Samoa,Scotland themselves may be desperate for a win.
South Africa need to beat Scotland and more than likely then beat the U.S.A too. South Africa have shown a propensity to under estimate teams. So the Test against the U.S.A may be a tricky one. When is South Africa going to give their A-team a break and give some squad members a taste of world cup rugby? Probably against the Eagles.
The winner of the clash on the 3rd of October at st James Park between South Africa and Scotland will put themselves in a favourable position to qualify for the knockout stages. So this game is very important.
In the Scottish team, I feel the absence due to a foot injury of Finn Russel is a big loss. He is a fly-half that has a full game and I’m not sure Scotland will get that with Duncan Weir. Weir is a passionate little player but hasn’t got the all round game of Russel.
A surprise for me was seeing Alasdair Dickinson starting from the bench along with Ross Ford. The thinking behind this is that if Scotland are still in it at 60 minutes, these experienced players could have a big impact and guide them through to a win.
I have mentioned Matt Scott’s brilliant running angles in a previous post. He may disrupt the defence of the SA midfield which may not be as organised without Jean de Villiers. Dave Denton likes to carry the ball in a very South African way, maybe because he is originally from Zimbabwe along with former Lions player Josh Strauss. These two guys will run straight at you. Combined with Blair Cowan on the openside the Scottish backrow/loose forwards looks balanced.
With the big boys hitting it up and Cowan and the Scottish backline seeking holes out wide. That is how I see the Scots trying to break down the Boks.
The Boks had a terrific match to beat Samoa but had two notable casualties of that game Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers. This will have a bit of disruption but I don’t think it will be much. Fourie du Preez takes over the captaincy. Du Preez knows coach Heyneke Meyer’s gameplan inside out. Meyer saying that Du Preez is an extension of himself on the field.
Jean de Villiers has been a warrior for the Springboks but to be honest his form was not up to scratch recently probably due to how little rugby he had played recently after coming back from injury. Many Bok supporters think Lood de Jager is better than Matfield. So the Bok team may be better off without Jean and Victor .
The Samoans never really had the Springboks in any real discomfort. The Test between them went very much how the Springboks would have wanted it to. If Scotland can put the right kind of pressure on South Africa I feel the South Africans will panic. The Boks got rattled when the Japanese unexpectedly took the game to them. This time the consequences for the Boks may be even bigger. So the panic may be worse.
I think Scotland will end up hanging on in this match and it will be the South Africans putting the pressure on the Scots but after that catastrophic loss to Japan in Brighton, South Africa will do well to not take anything for granted.