These are positive times for rugby in both South Africa and Scotland, and two teams on the up go head to head at Murrayfield on Saturday in the latest fixture in the Springboks’ northern hemisphere tour. So which team will prevail and where is the betting value to be found in this game? Our comprehensive betting preview will give you the lowdown on this exciting match-up.
Scotland versus Springboks Preview and Prediction
Scotland go into this match ranked fifth in the world, one place ahead of the Springboks. But if the world rankings suggest that the two teams are currently evenly matched, the history of this fixture has been distinctly one-sided in South Africa’s favour.
Their first ever meeting took place in Glasgow in 1906, when Scotland won a low-scoring affair 6-0. The Scots also enjoyed some success in the 1960s, beating South Africa at Murrayfield in 1965 and 1969, and there were also isolated victories in 2002 and 2010, both also in Edinburgh.
But aside from those exceptions, South African dominance has been the rule in this fixture. The Springboks have won 21 out of 26 games against Scotland, including 13 out of 18 on Scottish soil, and have only lost 1 of their last 13 against these opponents. Their last game, at the 2015 World Cup, saw a dominant first half performance by the Springboks backed up by the boot of Handre Pollard and a try from Bryan Habana to see off a brief Scottish second half revival.
Last Ten Meetings
2015 South Africa won 34-16 Newcastle (Rugby World Cup)
2014 South Africa won 55-6 Port Elizabeth
2013 South Africa won 28-0 Edinburgh
2013 South Africa won 30-17 Nelspruit
2012 South Africa won 21-10 Edinburgh
2010 Scotland won 21-17 Edinburgh
2008 South Africa won 14-10 Edinburgh
2007 South African won 27-3 Edinburgh
2006 South Africa won 29-15 Port Elizabeth
2006 South Africa won 36-16 Durban
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Defeats in Dublin and Cardiff meant that Scotland were only able to finish third in the Six Nations this year, but after regularly threatening to fulfil their promise, the victories over France, and particularly over a previously-dominant England side, were major boost for Scottish rugby. A relatively successful summer tour followed, and although they were beaten by Wales again at the start of the month, they showed plenty of fight and skill in recovering from a 14-17 deficit against Fiji to end with a 54-17 victory, powered by a second half hat-trick from Tommy Seymour.
The Rassie Erasmus era has been good for South African rugby so far. A home series win against England was backed up by stirring performances in the Rugby Championship, most notably a huge win in Wellington against the All Blacks. A weakened Springboks side fought hard in their opening game of the tour at Twickenham and were unfortunate to end up losing 12-11 and last week, South Africa once again showed their resilience in fighting back to win 29-26 in Paris after trailing by 14.
For Scotland there could be a controversial debut by Gary Graham. Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has called up the flanker who was part of the England 2018 Six Nations training camp, but who has opted to represent Scotland. Huw Jones, who started his professional career in South Africa, will return at centre, while Hamish Watson and Sam Skinner will start in the back row, with Jamie Ritchie on the bench. Gordon Reid, Stuart McInally, Jonny Gray and Ben Toolis will all return to the pack, but Matt Fagerson has not recovered from the dead leg he sustained against Fiji.
Erasmus was able to call on some of his European-based stars against France, having managed without them in the opening game against England, and the Springboks could be further strengthened by the return of Eben Etzebeth, while Frans Malherbe and Vincent Kock are expected to recover from minor injuries in time for the trip to Murrayfield. The one concern for South Africa is back row star Warren Whiteley, who is struggling with a calf injury and may be rested.
This has been a bruising tour so far for the Springboks. The match at Twickenham was a tough slog between two teams not prepared to give an inch, and they also had to dig deep against France last weekend. Yet, as they showed in the summer, resilience is not a problem for Erasmus’ side.
Scotland are an improving side, but they can’t match South Africa in the pack, and their poor record against southern hemisphere teams is a problem for would-be Scotland backers. After nearly coming unstuck at odds-on last weekend, the Springboks might not seem like a reliable proposition, but they have too much quality and fight to let Scotland get on top of them, and they look like a good bet, both in the Match Winner market and to cover a four-point handicap.
Back South Africa at 4/6
Back South Africa -4 at 10/11
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Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change.
15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Sam Skinner 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid
Substitutes: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris.