Preview: Scotland v South Africa

Scotland welcome South Africa to BT Murrayfield this Saturday desperate to continue their forward momentum under Gregor Townsend.

Scotland welcome South Africa to BT Murrayfield this Saturday desperate to continue their forward momentum under Gregor Townsend.

Their home record in recent years make for impressive reading and is one they’ll be looking to continue when the Springboks come to town.

Not since 2010 – when Townsend was assistant coach – have they beaten the Boks but after putting 50 points on Fiji last time out, optimism is high for the Scots.

They have made six changes from the team that ran riot last weekend as Huw Jones returns to the back line while there is a new front row of Gordon Reid, Stuart McInally and WP Nel.

Jonny Gray returns in the second row while Sam Skinner, so impressive on debut last week, shifts to blindside flanker with Hamish Watson back at No.7.

The Springboks meanwhile had to dig deep to down France with the final play of the game last weekend, only their second away win in the last 12 months.

They are still without the injured Eben Etzebeth while Faf de Klerk returns to club duties with Sale Sharks, so Embrose Papier gets the start at scrum-half.

Pieter-Steph du Toit shifts back to blindside flanker meaning that Duane Vermeulen is back in his preferred positon of No.8.   Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Saturday November 17, 17:20   What they said:   Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend: “Given what they’ve done recently, it would probably be our biggest win of the last couple of years,” he said.

“Obviously, the England win [25-13 in this year’s Six Nations] stands out as memorable given they had won so many games in succession and that trophy [the Calcutta Cup] we play for makes it even more special.

“I just feel South Africa now are in the top two or three teams in the world with how they’ve played against the best teams in the world.

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus: “Number one (New Zealand) and two (Ireland) are pretty clear but after that, the teams ranked three to seven are all pretty close to one another; anybody can beat anybody else,” he said.

“For a country with the amount of professional players they have, it is wonderful to see Scotland performing the way they are.”   Key battle – Finn Russell v Handre Pollard   Finn Russell returned to fly-half for Scotland last time out against Fiji – his first outing for his country since the Six Nations – and looked immediately at home.

The Racing 92 star will pull the strings for a Scotland backline that has the likes of Huw Jones, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour all in fine attacking form – not to mention the returned Stuart Hogg.

But up against him will be Handre Pollard – so impressive so far this year for the Boks and firmly established as Rassie Erasmus’ first choice No.10.   Key stats   – The Springboks have won their last five Tests against Scotland, with their last defeat coming at Murrayfield in 2010.

– South Africa have outscored Scotland 15 tries to one in the last three meetings.

– The BT Murrayfield crowd has witnessed ten home wins in their last 11 Tests

– Tommy Seymour’s hat-trick last time out against Fiji ended a personal eight-Test, 20-month try drought   Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Pete Horne, 11. Sean Maitland, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw (captain); 1. Gordon Reid, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. Willem Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Sam Skinner, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Ryan Wilson Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Josh Strauss, 20. Jamie Ritchie, 21. Ali Price, 22. Adam Hastings, 23. Chris Harris

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Sbu Nkosi, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Embrose Papier; 1. Steven Kitshoff, 2. Malcolm Marx, 3. Frans Malherbe, 4. RG Snyman, 5. Franco Mostert, 6. Siya Kolisi (captain), 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8. Duane Vermeulen. Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Francois Louw, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Elton Jantjies, 23. Cheslin Kolbe.