Nelspruit - The Springboks did not underestimate Scotland, captain Jean de Villiers said after the hosts got a scare in their 30-17 victory in Nelspruit on Saturday.
“To think we underestimated them, that is definitely not what we did and we knew they would not give up either because this is Test rugby,” De Villiers said.
“They never gave up and we got better and eventually won 30-17.”
VIDEO: Hamilton punches Etzebeth
GALLERY: Springboks v Scotland
The tourists went into the half-time break with a four-point lead and extended their advantage to 11 points shortly after the recess.
The momentum, however, swung in South Africa’s favour when Scottish lock Jim Hamilton was sin-binned for pushing Eben Etzebeth in the face.
Scotland coach Scott Johnson was scathing of the television match official and believed the yellow card allowed the Springboks back into the game.
“That is nothing but embarrassing, 10 minutes for that, that is handbag stuff and it ruined a great game of footy,” Johnson said.
“It is an aggressive sport and what we are asking for is consistency, did the punishment fit the crime? We were brave, we were resilient and I asked the boys for a special effort and they gave me everything.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer felt his charges put in an improved performance in the second half and they received quicker ball, which created greater attacking options.
“They (Scotland) were written off the whole week and we knew they would come back firing. They are a proud nation,” Meyer said.
“In the second half we got some quicker ball. I always knew once we started to get quick ball that we could play some rugby and go forward.”
Meyer said the team would take a lot from the close encounter, which they had to grind out to triumph in the end.
“This team has shown they can play great open running rugby if you get quick ball and turnovers. The concern was whether the guys would step-up if it was physical, tactical and a battle,” he said.
“A lot of the guys that are creative players put up their hands tonight.”
He said the players felt the pressure in the first half and he had to be careful not to add to the pressure by lambasting the players during the half-time break.
Meyer admitted he was known for climbing into players in the change room, but he knew he would make matters worse if he did so with a relatively young team.
“In the days with Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha and guys who have played in 50 Tests I would blast them during half-time,” he said.
“But I knew it would not help with an inexperienced side that is under pressure. I experienced the pressure and I could see they experienced the pressure, so I told them to take a deep breath and I knew if we could just settle we would win the match.”
De Villiers said he was proud of the team's composure.
“It shows that we are improving as a team and we’ve learnt from the lessons from last year,” he said.
“We are not happy with the performance as such, but it was a tight game where we’ve showed a lot of composure, and with a lot of youngsters in the team we pulled it through.”