Scotland vs Tonga, Sat, 22/11/2014 - 14:30

Scotland
37 - 12
Full time
Tonga
Saturday, 22 November, 2014 - 14:30 | Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

A fiery pre-match Sipi Tau from the Tongans threatened to set the plastic pitch on fire as the visitors laid down their mark on kick-off at Rugby Park, as Kilmarnock hosted it’s first Scotland international of the oval ball kind.

Despite something of a shaky start, with the visitors putting the first points on the board, Scotland put in a much stronger second half performance to end this viagogo Autumn Test series with a 37-12 win – five tries, two penalties and three conversions to four penalties – and two wins from three overall.

Reflecting on the win head coach Vern Cotter said: “It was a hard game, very tough, with a lot of pressure on us.

"We tried to do simple things well, worked hard and finally got on top.

Though acknowledging the good performance he sounded caution moving towards the RBS 6 Nations.

"If we come back thinking we can reproduce the same stuff, that's a trap, that's dangerous."

In front of a crowd of over 16,000, Tonga kicked off and bossed the first few phases, Scotland passing up a number of chances to break the line including a corker from Finn Russell which had the crowd roaring but a slipped pass switched possession and put Tonga on the attack again, to win and have stand-off Fosita duly slot the penalty to put the visitors 0-3 ahead after ten minutes.

Scotland immediately hit back with kick to touch and scrum 5m out from Tonga's line, picked out by Laidlaw but the line faltered with a missed pass and intercept from Tonga who kicked upfield. Seymour just outran the chasing pack to retrieve the ball, which was rolling precariously towards the whitewash, as the players were pulled back for a linout.

As the Tongans were subsequently pinged twice for coming in from the side, the Scots made the yards. Rolling maul after rolling maul eventually saw a guddle of blue-clad bodies cross the line, Cowan credited with the score, and Laidlaw adding the extras from out wide to put the home side 7-3 ahead after 16 minutes.

Barely two minutes later, with the Scots pinged for not rolling away, Hosita nailed another penalty from almost the halfway to put the visitors ahead 7-9. The Scots momentarily lost shape, with Dunbar yellow carded for a dangerous tackle, and Tonga were awarded another penalty for infringement at the breakdown, duly slotted by Fosita to make it 7-12 - as it turned out, the last points of the afternoon for the visitors.As Scotland stole lineout ball at the restart and began to look more composed - despite a flurry of missed passes, fumbles and slips which saw possession switch back and forth with alarming regularity. Another infringement by the Scots brought Tonga to within a point when Fosita put the penalty through the uprights again on the 20-minute mark.

The restart kick was collected mid-air on the wing by Visser and thrown out wide, the Scottish pack pressing the line from all angles. Laidlaw charged down an intercept moments later with Russell diving on the ball as it rumbled over the line but the try was disallowed.

As Tonga then raced to the Scots line, the try seemingly on, there came a moment of magic from fullback Stuart Hogg. Intercepting a pass on its way, surely, to the whitewash, Hogg ran the length of the field to touch down by the posts, the score duly converted by Laidlaw to edge Scotland 14-12 ahead on 33m - the score standing until half time - the home side only then returning to full complement as Dunbar returned to the field.

Both sides came out firing after the break and, three minutes into the second half, the Scots were pulled back for infringement at the set piece. However Fosita, kicking from the left, at length, didn’t see this one through and the scores stayed the same.

Minutes later a pin-sharp pass from stand-off Russell saw centre Alex Dunbar break through the Tongan line and wrestle his way across the line to dot down in the top corner. A tricky conversion from a narrow angle at the touchline went wide however the 19-12 scoreline gave the Scots, and the crowd, a visible boost.

A steal from the lineout by flanker Rob Harley set up the next phase of activity which ended with a penalty awarded to Scotland in front of the posts. This time Laidlaw didn’t miss, increasing Scotland’s lead to 22-12 on the 54-minute mark.

A further steal at the back of the lineout from Cowan - Scotland won six Tongan lineouts in the second half - saw centre Sean Lamont pass out wide to Visser who hared up the wing before being bundled into touch. A promising phase ended with possession returning to Tonga, who worked their way back towards Scotland’s line after the home side were pinged for coming in at the side.

Despite the bulk of the Tongan pack, Scotland won an important scrum as they progressed into the opposition 22 on the 60-minute mark, pressing home the advantage and winning the next phase as Tonga were penalised for standing up in the scrum and Laidlaw struck the penalty sweetly between the posts.

Substitute Strokosch immediately made his mark with a number of handoffs to move the ball upfield, with Russell putting in some good yards to see prop Geoff Cross over the whitewash just over five minutes later - confirmed after a few nervous moments with the TMO - and converted in front of the posts to make it 32-12 by Laidlaw who had now reached 299 points for his country.

With the bit between their teeth and ball in hand Scotland harried the Tongan line for phase after phase going into the last ten minutes.

A mammoth kick to touch crossfield from Russell was scooped up by winger Tommy Seymour who touched down just by the flag, to the delight of the crowd. Russell’s coversion was just short but at 37-12 on 78m, the match was out of Tonga’s reach.

Summing up their performance, captain Laidlaw said: "We spoke this week about making sure we finished the job. We're not going to get carried away. There's a tough competition coming up."

 

Scotland: 15  Hogg  14 Seymour  13 Lamont  12 Dunbar  11 Visser  10 Russell  9 Laidlaw: 1 Dickinson  2 Ford  3 Cross  4 R Gray   5 J Gray   6 Harley   7 Cowan  8 Beattie. Substitutes: 16 Brown (on for Ford, 71m) 17 Reid (on for Dickinson, 65m) 18 Grant (on for Cross, 77m) 19 Low (on for Gray, 74m) 20 Strokosch (on for Beattie, 65m)  21 Cusiter (on for Laidlaw, 73m) 22 Weir (on for Russell, 78m) 23 Taylor (on for Lamont, 74m)

Tries, Cowan, Hogg, Dunbar, Cross, Seymour
Penalties: Laidlaw (2)
Conversions: Laidlaw (3)

Tonga: 15 Lilo   14 Halaifonua   13 Piutau   12 Paea   11 Vainikolo   10 Fosita   9 Takulua:   1 Mailau   2 Lutui   3 Fa'anunu   4 Lokotui   5 Tuineau   6 Kalamafoni   7 Latu   8 Ma'afu.  Substitutes: 16 Taione (on for Lutui, 55m) 17 Lea  18 Puafisi  19 Fa'aoso (on for Tuineau, 65m)  20 T-Pole (on for Ma’afu, 65m)  21 Palu (on for Takulua, 69m)  22 Morath (on for Fosita, 69m)  23 Piukala (on for Halaifonua, 67m)

Penalties: Fosita (4)

Team lineups

Attendance: 
16 026
viagogo Man of the match: 
Blair Cowan

viagogo Autumn Tests 2014 table

PosTeamPWLDPts
1Scotland00000
2Argentina00000
3New Zealand00000
4Tonga00000

viagogo Autumn Tests 2014 latest results

Scotland 37 v 12 Tonga
Scotland 16 v 24 New Zealand
Scotland 41 v 31 Argentina