After hammering Italy the previous week, the Springboks turned their attention to Scotland for their next match in Nelspruit.
The Italians caused some problems at the set piece and coach Heynecke Meyer made five changes to the 22 that cruised past the Azzurri (44-10). Two of which were in the starting XV; Ruan Pienaar came in at scrumhalf for the injured Jano Vermaak while Arno Botha replaced Francois Louw.
The match also marked the return of Bismarck du Plessis, who has spent the previous ten months out of the game after suffering serious knee ligament damage in the Rugby Championship in 2012 in the match against Argentina.
Meyer also named Siya Kolisi and Piet van Zyl as replacements; both who could earn their first Test caps if they were to get on the field.
Scotland arrived in South Africa after a mixed 2013 Six Nations campaign. Wins against Italy and Ireland were tempered by heavy losses to England and Wales, and they also went down by seven to last-placed France.
Their patchy form continued in the Republic in the first week of the quadrangular tournament, and despite holding a slender three-point lead at one point they were well-beaten 27-17 by Samoa.
That said, coach Scott Johnson did name six debutants for the first week’s Test and he contunued in that mold making a further three for the match against South Africa: Peter Murchie, Tim Swinson and Tommy Seymour all earned their first caps.
The trio were among seven changes to the starting XV with Ruaridh Jackson and Scott Lawson two of the more experienced inclusions into Scotland’s young side.
The Springboks have tasted defeat just five times in 22 matches against the Scots and have won eight of their past ten.
Interestingly, Scotland has never beaten the Springboks on South African soil. On the evidence of Scotland’s 2013 form and the fact that some of their top players were on tour in Australia with the British and Irish Lions the pre-match consensus was that it’s unlikely that history will change in Nelspruit.
15. Willie le Roux
15. Peter Murchie
Kick-Off: 1.15am AEST
Three second-half tries saw South Africa come from behind to beat Scotland 30-17 in their Quadrangular Tournament clash in Nelspruit.
The visitors looked to be heading for their first-ever win over the Springboks in South Africa after Matt Scott and Alex Dunbar scored converted tries in either half to put Scott Johnson's side 17-6 ahead.
Team mates congratulate Matt Scott after scoring Scotland first try midway through a first half that saw Scotland dominating in virtually all aspects of the match but especially at the breakdowns/collisions.
The bald headed Alasdair Strokosch (first picture above) and Jim Hamiltion (second picture) caused South Africa lots of trouble at the breakdowns and lineouts repectively.
The hosts were awarded a penalty try and, after Jim Hamilton had been sin-binned for fighting, the Boks took advantage of their numerical superiority and JJ Engelbrecht touched down.
Hamilton pushed Etzebeth in the face which resulted in a bit of pushing and shoving when Etzebeth retaliated.
Hamilton received a yellow card and that largly turned the match. The Scottish coach was vivid afterwards when expressing his dissapointment with yellow card its effect on the match.
Jan Serfontein scored a last-gasp try to seal the win.
This picture shows Jean de Villiers getting tackled. The Scottish tackling was determined and the attacking play incisive, with captain Greig Laidlaw finding lots of holes around the fringe of the rucks, while Scott in the centre was also creating plenty of problems for the home defence.
Scotland started off with a hiss and a roar and showed determination and total commitment at the collisions.
The pressure and accendency in the threnches had to pay off and it did, first with a Laidlaw penalty after near misses for Alasdair Strokosch and Scott twice.
Greig Laidlaw put Scotland in the lead with a penalty after Springboks infringements at the breakdown.
Soon afterwards Scotland took a decisive lead due to a moment of brilliance from Tommy Seymour -the wing winning his first cap - who spotted a gap, ran through and chipped over Springbok fullback Willie Le Roux. Although Seymour was caught a yard short, Scotland recycled the ball and had a five-man overlap when Scott ambled over the line.
South Africa stayed in touch with a couple of penalties from fly-half Morne Steyn - but when they had the chance to cut the gap to a single point with a third kickable penalty, they opted instead to go for the corner and a line-out maul.
Scotland, however, was in no mood to give way to that sort of bullying. They stood firm against two goes at the same tactics before the Springboks lost control and they could hack the ball clear.
The Scots still had their noses in front at the break and it was soon to get even better as Tim Swinson - another of the impressive debutants - drove up the middle. Although he was stopped a couple of yards short, he had done the damage and centre Dunbar was out wide to finish off the overlap for his first international try.
Alex Dunbar scoring Scotland's second try at a time when South Africa was trying desperately to get back into the game.
Staring an improbable defeat in the face, South Africa raised their intensity, though it was a stupid trip on Bryan Habana that got them into the game. Steyn kicked the penalty into the corner and when Scotland were ruled to have collapsed the maul, referee Roman Poite went straight under the posts to give the home side a penalty try.
Seconds later Scotland lock Hamilton was in the sin bin for a push to the face on Eben Etzebeth, his opposite number, and Scotland were back under the cosh. A line-out misfire handed the hosts the ball, they piled upfield, pummelled the Scots line and centre Engelbrecht went over for the score that put them ahead for the first time on the hour mark.
JJ Engelbrecht scoring the try that put South Africa into the lead for the first time in the match. This happened at a time when Scotland had only 14 men on the field.
Patrick Lambie converted the last two tries.
Jan Serfontein swivelled out of a tackle right at the end of the match to score his first test try.
Replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie kicked a penalty to increase the cushion to six points and replacement centre Serfontein wriggled over in the dying seconds to add a scarcely deserved gloss to the result.
Pierre Spies did not have a great game. He dissapeared us usual when the going got tough and was severely critized afterwards in the social media.
Marcel Coetzee was also overshadowed at the collisions and the tight loose.
Arno Botha left the field early in the match with a season ending injury.
The injury to Arno Botha opened the door for Siya Kolisi and he took the opportunity with both hands putting in a man of the match perfromance.
Adrian Strauss played his heart out but couldn't do much against the tigerish Scotish defence.
Eben Etzebeth was another Springbok who tried hard but the Scotish enegry and sometimes suspect tactics at the breakdown frustrated the Springboks and didn't allow them to built momentum.
Star of the 2013 Super15 season Willie le Roux had a reasonable second test but struggled to spark something against the tight defence.
Captain Jean de Villiers received much of the praise for the victory. Players reported that it was his calmness and guidance on the field that pulled the team through in circumstances that would have seen them loose in the previous season. It was a character building test for a young Springbok side, said coach Heynecke Meyer afterwards.