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Rugby World Cup 2023: Scotland v South Africa analysis by Johnnie Beattie

2023 Rugby World Cup

Hosts: France Dates: 8 September to 28 October

Coverage: Full commentary of every game across BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and Radio Scotland, plus text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Former Scotland forward Johnnie Beattie called it "a poor day at the office" and "a missed opportunity".

Fans were left bemoaning a lack of refereeing consistency. And head coach Gregor Townsend fell somewhere in the middle after Scotland's World Cup started with defeat to South Africa.

The Springboks' dominance at the set-piece didn't allow Scotland to implement their attacking plans in the 18-3 loss, and Townsend's side now face an uphill battle to reach the quarter-finals.

"There was no platform, absolutely nothing at the set-piece," Beattie said on BBC Radio 5 Live. "Scotland will look at that as a missed opportunity, especially the forward pack.

"They did not offer a platform at all to the back line and even when they did, it was scrappy ball. Against the blitz defence you are always working uphill - a poor day at the office."

Lots of talk before the game focused on whether Scotland would be able to get their talented back line into the game against a side as physical and relentless as South Africa, and the reality is that they couldn't.

They lost six of their own lineouts inside South Africa's 22, and as a result couldn't turn territory into points.

The Springboks' dominance up front can be seen from the metres made by both sides post-contact. South Africa made 315 to Scotland's 180 - they beat Scotland up in the tight, and Scotland had no answers.

Game-changing decision? Or just an aside?

However, long before Rassie Erasmus' side steamrollered their way to a deserved win, there was an incident that could easily have sent the game down a different course.

In the opening throes of the game, Jesse Kriel stayed upright in a tackle on Jack Dempsey and made direct contact with the Scotland number eight's head.

It was a collision that bore remarkable similarities to the red card shown to England's Tom Curry on Saturday, but the officials took no action.

Former Scotland captain John Barclay was adamant that they had made a mistake. "That's a red card," he said on ITV. "That fact that it's not even been reviewed is inexcusable."

Scotland fans agreed.

"No consistency."

"If Curry's was red so should Kriel's be."

"Seeing that head on head tackle by South Africa in the first half and nothing is done."

"Probably a worse tackle than the one that the England player got sent off for. The application of the laws of the game is even worse than football's VAR."

Townsend said that, when he saw replays of the tackle at the time, he expected further action to be taken.

The Scotland head coach was frustrated, but insisted that he was more disappointed by his side's performance after that point.

"I saw it about two screens away," he said. "It looked like a head-on-head collision and I was expecting the TMO to come in.

"Who knows? [If it would have changed the game]. A red card last night didn't change the match too much in terms of Argentina.

"We had a promising attacking position outside the 22 and the TMO came in for a body check [by Finn Russell]. I didn't know how that ended up being a penalty. So yes there are still inconsistencies when there has been a head contact.

"We're frustrated at that but we're more frustrated at our own performance. We never got the accuracy to trouble them on the scoreboard."