‘We can beat the Boks,’ says Townsend

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - BY STE­WART FISHER

SCOT­LAND rugby head coach Gre­gor Townsend praised the play­ers who ran in eight tries in the course of a morale-boost­ing 54-17 win against Fiji and said they could fol­low it up next week­end against a South African team who he rates as one of the top two or three sides in the world.

Scot­land scored 40 unan­swered points at a sell-out BT Mur­ray­field to rack up their big­gest points tally for 11 years against the Pa­cific Is­landers, who had led 17- 14 as half- time ap­proached.

It helped get their Au­tumn internationals back on track af­ter last week’s de­feat to Wales but Townsend is in no doubt they will have to be bet­ter still on Satur­day against a Spring­boks side who beat France 29-26 last night and will rep­re­sent a huge step up in class. How­ever, he says this Scot­land squad have al­ready proved they can com­pete with the top teams.

“The at­mos­phere in the ground again was fan­tas­tic,” said a de­lighted Townsend. “To get eight tries and have the play­ers feel that at­mos­phere was be­hind them is a huge boost go­ing into next week.

“But the play­ers are very aware that next week is a huge step up. South Africa, you could ar­gue, are in the best two or three teams in the world given their re­cent form. They’ve beaten New Zealand once and could have done it a sec­ond time.

“They have a huge pack, one that caused Eng­land a lot of prob­lems last week. We be­lieve they are play­ing a level of rugby that is ri­val to the best teams in the world right now.

“But I be­lieve in this group of play­ers. They have risen to the chal­lenge be­fore against the best teams in the world. We know it will be a tough test.

“Last year we played Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Eng­land and played our best games of the sea­son. That is what we have to do to beat South Africa but I be­lieve we have that per­for­mance in us.”

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