STATS freak and rugby expert Russ Petty (@RPetty80) casts his eye over Saturday’s crucial Pool B clash between the Springboks and Scotland.
South Africa v Scotland | Saturday 16.45 | ITV1
After beating Samoa, South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said if his team play to their strengths then nobody can beat them. The other side of that is true too and when they’ve got it wrong over the past year, the Boks have lost to Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, Wales and Japan.
Poor Jean de Villiers has no luck when it comes to World Cups but his injury and the absence of Victor Matfield for this match perhaps means that South Africa have stumbled upon their best team of the year.
In contrast, Scotland are without a number of key starters including Finn Russell and Mark Bennett. Vern Cotter’s team have scored an average of 26 points in the 13 games with Russell starting at fly-half since June 2014, compared to 17 without him.
It is an average of 12 points scored when the half-backs Duncan Weir and Greig Laidlaw have been paired together and this will be just the second start for the centre combination of Matt Scott and Richie Vernon.
Scotland outscored both Japan and USA by 30 points after the break in the earlier pool matches but their slow starts might be a concern. Last year they were 19-3 down after 16 minutes against South Africa, having conceded a try in the third minute. They year before they trailed by 21-0 after 32 minutes, with the Boks scoring in the fourth minute.
I’ll back another strong Springboks start against the Scots with the -6 first-half handicap a 10/11 option with Boylesports. It’s also well worth noting a South African forward has scored the first try in four of the previous five meetings. Lock Lood de Jager has four tries from six starts, including a brace against Scotland last year and is 50/1 with Boylesports to open the scoring.
South Africa v Scotland – South Africa -6 first-half handicap (10/11 Boylesports)
South Africa v Scotland – Lood de Jager to score the first try (50/1 Boylesports)
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