BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
John Beattie reckons Scotland will have to beef up for South Africa – because the Springboks will view the Scots’ scrum as a ‘juicy piece of meat’.
The nations face each other in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park in an eagerly-awaited encounter that could ultimately decide the fate of Pool B.
If Scotland were to upset the odds and secure a third consecutive victory, they would be favourites to progress to the quarter-finals as group winners and leave South Africa in danger of not qualifying.
However, defeat would leave the Scots’ qualification hanging in the balance ahead of their final pool match against Samoa a week later.
Sunday’s bonus-point triumph over the USA has given Scotland maximum points from their first two matches, but Beattie believes they will have to improve their level of performance to challenge the Springboks.
He said: “We’ve learned that we’re pretty competitive and we’re pretty capable, but we’re not yet at South Africa’s class, I don’t think.
“When we changed our tactics (on Sunday) and went much more straight off the ruck and short passing we made ground.
“But our scrum will be viewed as a juicy piece of meat by the South Africans; they’ll want to target that.
“We’ve learned that, in the first-half against the USA, when a good, big, strong team gave us troubles we had some weaknesses exposed.”
Scotland have given both Japan and the USA a sniff of an upset in their opening two matches with first-half performances in which they have struggled to assert their authority.
However, Beattie, who earned 25 caps for Scotland at number 8 and toured twice with the British and Irish Lions, has also seen positives.
He added on BBC Scotland: “We also learned that we’ve got great backs. We’ve got (Mark) Bennett, (Stuart) Hogg and I thought Matt Scott played well.
“But I don’t think we’ve learned too much we didn’t know.
“It’s going to be a fascinating progress in these next two games. How far can Scotland go?”