Scotland forward David Denton today looked ahead to the next round of the EMC Autumn Test rugby series and insisted it is a case of “bring on the Boks”.
Undeterred by the fact that Scotland opened their programme with a 51-22 home defeat by New Zealand, the 22-year-old Edinburgh back rower insisted a bucketload of rust has come out of the team’s system.
Also, Denton believes that Scotland are more suited to the route-one bludgeoning style associated with South Africa than the fingertip touches employed by New Zealand in stretching opponents to their limits. If anybody should know it is Denton, who was brought up in Zimbabwe and had regular contact with South African sides before moving to Scotland and making himself eligible to wear the thistle through ancestry.
Capped seven times, including a first half shift as a substitute on Sunday for the unfortunate Ross Rennie, who is out for the duration of the Autumn programme with shoulder damage, Denton said: “Facing the All Blacks could have been more physical and it was more the tempo they played at which was the tough thing.
“The physical challenge is coming on Saturday.”
However, he maintained: “These Boks are a side we can definitely play well against. Their tempo is a lot slower and they are a lot more physical but we can definitely handle that.
“Whenever New Zealand wanted to attack they had quick ball and we made it easy for them by missing first-up tackles. You can’t win matches if you don’t make your tackles and that is where we came unstuck. We have to get our defence sorted because we can’t let a team score as many tries as New Zealand scored against us (six). You’ll never win games like that.
“We need to work on our systems in defence. We were sitting off a bit too much. If we do come up with a bit more pressure in offence we are going to be in a very good place. We were rusty in defence and there were a few times in attack when we looked like a team that hadn’t been together for a while. On other occasions, though, particularly towards the end of the first half, we looked like a very, very dangerous team. Defence is a big negative for us but we scored three tries and three tries should be enough to win you a game.
“The great positive I take is that we had a powerful maul I haven’t seen in Scottish rugby for a long time.
“We knew we had to take them physically and we did that well.”
In many ways this is a more important challenge as Scotland have beaten South Africa twice in recent years and have no hang-ups associated with the All Blacks fixture where they have drawn a blank in each of 29 meetings apart from two draws. “A lot of our optimism does stem from having beaten South Africa as recently as 2010, but there is more to it than that,” says Denton. “They are a team our style of rugby suits playing against.”
There is also the massive incentive for Scotland of trying to improve their world ranking so as to reach the top eight and avoid being in a pool with two big guns when the draw for the 2015 tournament is made on December 3.
“This is massive in terms of world cup qualification and we need to get ourselves as high up the rankings as possible to ensure we get a good pool in the World Cup.”