Scotland have no choice but to compete with the likes of South Africa physically if they are to progress, believes Stuart McInally.
The former captain and hooker believes the Scots can match the Springboks and did so at times during the 30-15 loss at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
But those who believe Scotland can keep the ball moving and avoid the physical challenge of the bigger teams are deluding themselves.
‘You have to match them’
🗣️ Jacques Nienaber: “The difference today was the way we used our opportunities”
👉 Post-match reaction from the Boks: https://t.co/K4vDcOAQEd#StrongerTogether #StrongerForever #SCOvRSA pic.twitter.com/WJe4yOEK81
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 13, 2021
“That is the way to play them,” he said. “You have to match their physicality.
“We believe we are a physical team and we showed that in large parts of our defence today. A lot of their points came from penalty kicks not from dominating us.
“I was really proud of the defensive effort. If you look at the way we scored our tries it was from moving the ball. That was part of our plan today and it was good to see us pick up a couple of tries, but we needed to take a few more of those opportunities.”
Lineout and scrum were where South Africa controlled the game and McInally accepts there is no option for the Scots but to do better there.
“We came up against a very good scrum. They were powerful, they were well coached and there were a few times we creaked a little.
“But there were a few times I thought we got into good shape and rhythm as well but didn’t get the rewards.
“We have got to give credit to them at the set-piece. Their set-piece team came and delivered. I think on the whole we could have been better at scrum time definitely, and we have to solve a few issues there but credit to them for the way they played.”
‘Mental focus for the full 80’
Sam Skinner reckoned the mental focus slipped for Scotland in the second half.
“If we are being critical of ourselves, which we have to be, we can win these games,” he said. “We have got the belief, we have got the quality.
“We just have to have that mental focus for the full 80. But credit where credit is due, South Africa deserved their victory.”
Skinner still believes they can take confidence from that game building towards the World Cup, where they’ll meet South Africa in the pool stages.
“We know we have the tools to win games like that,” he said. “We’re close, really close. We beat Australia last weekend and I genuine believe (against South Africa) we didn’t really get out the blocks.
“There’s two years to keep growing till the World Cup, and honestly we couldn’t ask for a better squad or coaching staff or facilities. It is all there for us. We just have to stay ruthless with our mentality and keeping improving for the Scottish nation.”
‘Our scrum wasn’t good enough’
Head coach Gregor Townsend accepted that coaches and players “have to be better” against set-piece based teams like the Springboks.
“We knew the set-piece was going to be a real challenge,” he said. “They are up there with the best in the world around their scrum and lineout. Their game is based on having more set-pieces.
“From a positive, I felt our maul defence was very good. They had a number of mauls in our 22 and we either put pressure on the source or we held out. And that’s a maul that’s scored a lot of tries over the years.
“But our scrum wasn’t good enough throughout the 80 minutes. At times it looked good and at times we felt hard done by, but at times that South Africa had the upper hand.
“In terms of lineout, the second half was disappointing. We had some innovative ways of getting the ball in the first half to provide us with some possession.
“But we’ll look back at that second half and obviously say didn’t win enough lineout. That’s for coaches and players to do a better job next time.”