South Africa 18-3 Scotland, Pool B, Stade de Marseille
South Africa began their Rugby World Cup title defence with a 18-3 victory over Scotland in the Pool B clash at Stade de Marseille on Sunday.
Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kurt-Lee Arendse scored second half tries from the Springboks while Scotland's only points in the match came from a penalty goal from Finn Russell.
The game started with a controversy as Jesse Kriel's dangerous tackle with a head on head contact with Scotland number eight Jack Dempsey went unpunished by the officials. Manie Libbok with a 35m penalty in the 12th minute kick started the proceedings for the Springboks as they took a 3-0 lead.
As Scotland were penalised for not releasing the ball, Libbok with his second three-pointer helped the Boks double their lead in the 25th minute before Scotland had a moment of relief as Russell was cleared of any charges for a potential no arm tackle on Arendse around the half-hour mark.
Just as the break was approaching, repeated infringements from Frans Malherbe allowed Scotland an opportunity to open their account which Russell kicked to perfection as the teams completed the opening half with a competitive 6-3 scoreline.
The Boks were the quickest to get off the block as du Toit crashed over for the opening try of the game in the 45th minute and shortly a crossfield kick from Libbok set up Arendse over the line in the 50th minute. Faf de Klerk kicked the conversion on the second occasion as South Africa extended their lead to 18-3.
Even though Scotland tried desperately to find a breakthrough, South Africa's defence kept them at bay and despite not being at their usual best, Jacques Nienaber's men will be relieved to get away with a 15-point victory.
South Africa will head to Bordeaux for their second game against Romania while Scotland will now face an uphill task of needing to beat Tonga, Romania and Ireland if they are to have any chance of progressing to next round.
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend is wary of the task ahead following the defeat to South Africa.
“We’re going to give everybody three days off, a good chance not to think about rugby," Gregor Townsend said. "Then we’ll have a 10-day preparation for Tonga, which will be tough. We know we’ve got to be much better than we were today.”
Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie echoed Townsend's sentiments and is now looking to bounce back against Tonga.
"We just couldn't execute under pressure. We pride ourselves on taking opportunities so we've got to be better. We’ve just got to dust ourselves off. I said to the guys: all the hard work we’ve put in hasn’t gone away, we’ve still got loads to play for.”
Team line up:
South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Marx, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (c), Du Toit, Wiese.
Reserves: Mbonambi, Nche, Nyakane, Snyman, Van Staden, Vermeulen, Williams, Le Roux.
Scotland: Kinghorn; Graham, Jones, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, White; Schoeman, Turner, Z Fagerson, Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie (c), Darge, Dempsey.
Reserves: Cherry, Bhatti, Nel, Cummings, M Fagerson, Price, Redpath, Smith.