South Africa 36 Scotland 16
Scotland were handed a wake-up call with a comprehensive defeat by South Africa in the first Test in Durban.
After stirring RBS Six Nations Championship wins over France, England and Italy earlier this year, the Scots had high hopes of upsetting Jake White’s team.
But, against a South African side packed with pace and raw power, Scotland toiled.
Tries from Schalk Burger, Breyton Paulse, Andre Snyman and Percy Montgomery sealed the triumph with the Scots for lengthy periods.
Montgomery also struck 16 points with his boot, while a Simon Webster touchdown and three Chris Paterson penalties and a conversion consoled the visitors.
Dan Parks kicked off for the Scots – but that was the last time a Scottish player touched the ball before the Springboks snatched the lead.
The power of the home pack was instantly underlined as they embarked on a 20-metre rolling maul before Schalk Burger made a telling break.
Scotland had wandered offside, giving Montgomery the chance to set up a line-out deep in the danger zone.
The Boks kept up the pressure and Donnie Macfadyen halted Jacob van der Westhuizen with a brilliant tackle.
He spoilt the good work, however, by entering the ruck from side-on and Montgomery collected the easy three points.
Scotland responded in stirring fashion with winger Sean Lamont testing the South African markers down the left flank.
They failed to breach the defence, but Paterson slotted the equaliser from a tricky angle after skipper Jason White was blocked off the ball.
Alarm bells were ringing in the Scots camp when they were shoved off their own scrummage put-in, allowing the Boks to create the most potent-looking raid of the contest.
Somehow the tourists’ back-ranks regrouped to snuff out the peril through a long Parks’ clearance.
The sheer strength of the Springboks shone through again three minutes later when captain John Smit was driven across the line at the end of a 20-metre rumble.
Smit claimed the score, however television replays indicated that Mike Blair and Ally Hogg had prevented him grounding the ball and a five-metre scrum was awarded instead of the try.
Then came the moment of controversy which left Scotland furious.
Burger burrowed his way towards the target and appeared to place the ball on the turf a few inches short before rolling it along the grass to the line.
That should have meant a penalty for the Scots, but instead video official Simon McDowell signalled for the touchdown.
Montgomery added the goal and, within two minutes, the challenge of Frank Hadden’s side was effectively destroyed.
Burger was again in the spotlight with a trademark charge which provided the time and space for winger Breyton Paulse to burst through Mike Blair’s tackle and over at the corner.
There was more potential grief for Scotland when lock Scott Murray was penalised for holding the ball in contact after taking a quick drop-out.
But Murray heaved a sigh of relief as he watched Montgomery’s effort drift past the far post.
At the other end, a speculative lob by full-back Hugo Southwell sparked panic in the Springboks’ defence.
And, when Victor Matfield scooped up the ball in an offside position, Paterson calmly reduced the leeway by three points.
South Africa raced back into attack and only a brave last-gasp tackle by Southwell stopped the flying Fourie du Preez bagging a third try.
Paterson then hauled down van der Westhuizen, but, seconds later, Montgomery thumped over a penalty for a scrum offence by Bruce Douglas.
The Scots suffered a further setback on the stroke of the interval as Sean Lamont hobbled off to be replaced by Simon Webster.
Paterson gave Scotland a glimmer of hope by confidently completing his penalty treble immediately after the restart.
But any real prospect of a fightback was dashed when Andre Snyman strolled round under the crossbar following a searing break by Jan de Villiers.
Montgomery converted before adding his third penalty after Nathan Hines obstructed the flow of the ball.
The full-back had the home fans on their feet as he jigged his way past three challenges to collect try number four.
Montgomery continued his spree with another penalty, but there was still time for Webster to skate in for Scotland’s consolation try, goaled by Paterson to keep his 100% record with the boot.