South Africa crush Scotland to launch defence of World Cup crown

AP - Daniel Cole

South Africa began the defence of their World Cup crown with a clinical 18-3 victory over Scotland at the Vélodrome in Marseille.

Hannie Libbok kicked two penalties and Finn Russell responded with one on the stroke of half-time in an attritional first-half where flair was at a minimum.

Any hopes of a close second-half were seradicated with two tries in five minutes.

Pieter-Steph Dutoit powered over to push the lead to 11-3 and before the Scots could recover, Libbok's cross-field kick was gathered by Kurt-Lee Arendse who went over in the corner on the right wing. Faf De Klerk added the conversion to make it 18-3.

South Africa continued to exert their power and missed a couple of chances to extend the advantage.

And though Scotland toiled gamely to stay in the match, they could not penetrate.

The defeat leaves Scotland at a disadvantage in Group B which has been dubbed the Group of Death with three sides in the top five in the world rankings.

Ireland - who lead the lists - began their World Cup quest on Saturday afternoon with an 82-8 annihilation of Romania in Bordeaux.

South Africa - who are just behind the Irish - will aim to inflict the same kind of misery when they play the Romanians next Sunday in Bordeaux.

They follow that up six days later against Romania in Lille before meeting Ireland at the Stade de France on 7 October.

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