NELSPRUIT (Reuters) - South Africa were given a far tougher test than expected by an injury-ravaged Scotland on Saturday but coach Heyneke Meyer said the Springboks would learn from the unconvincing 30-17 win.
South Africa had to come from 17-6 down against a Scotland side that were expected to be overrun at the Mbombela Stadium and while the eventual scoreline flattered the hosts they showed they were able to dig deep when the game plan goes awry.
“We needed a game like this before the Rugby Championship,” Meyer said of the upcoming annual tournament against Argentina, Australia and world champions New Zealand.
”We learn more from these type of games than we would ... if we were just running in tries. We showed we can step up on a psychological, tactical and physical level, and a lot of our creative players put their hands up.
“Scotland used their opportunities well and last year had we been 17-6 down we probably would have gone on and lost the game,” added Meyer in his post-match analysis.
“We showed a lot of character.”
South Africa have introduced a raft of young players in their last two tests, a 44-10 win over Italy in Durban last week and Saturday’s triumph over the Scots, and welcomed back hooker Bismarck du Plessis after a year out through injury.
Meyer also singled out 20-year-old centre Jan Serfontein, who scored a try on Saturday in only his second test.
South Africa next play Samoa in Pretoria on Saturday on the last weekend of a four nation tournament, while Scotland take on Italy in the earlier game at Loftus Versfeld.
Editing by Peter Rutherford