Scotland 56 - 10 Portugal
Scotland opened their World Cup campaign in the best possible way this evening with a compelling bonus-point win over Portugal in St Etienne. An almost capacity crowd in the atmospheric cauldron of the Geoffroy Guichard stadium watched the Scots run in eight tries.
Scotland opened their World Cup campaign in the best possible way this evening with a compelliing bonus-point win over Portugal in St Etienne. An almost capacity crowd in the atmospheric cauldron of the Geoffroy Guichard stadium watched the Scots run in eight tries to finish the match 56-10.
The Portuguese competing in their first World Cup did not always make it easy, and it was 11 minutes before Rory Lamont scored Scotland’s first try. He quickly followed this with a second. The other tries came from Scott Lawson, Rob Dewey, Dan Parks, Hugo Southwell, Kelly Brown and Ross Ford, while Parks and Chris Paterson put on a world class kicking display, successfully converting all eight tries.
Speaking after the match, head coach Frank Hadden said: “The most important thing was to win with a bonus point and we did that. It was also good to get the tournament underway and another game under our belts. It still feels like pre-season but now we have something in our tanks.
“We always knew it would be difficult and so it proved. We had to work hard for the win. It wasn’t slick but we are confident we’ll make progress as the tournament goes on.
“The crowd was fantastic, with almost 35,000 people. I hope we increase that number at Murrayfield as we want a big crowd behind us there when we return to play Romania a week on Tuesday.”
Captain Jason White was also full of praise for the supporters, saying: “The atmosphere was brilliant. The Scots were dressed up and the neutrals got behind us and it was great.”
“I’ve never had an easy international game and Portugal were really competitive at the breakdown. We are very happy to have won and we know we have something to work on.”
The Scots set out their stall early opting not to kick at goal from penalties. They threatened from the outset with a break by Sean Lamont setting up Mike Blair who passed overhead to Jason White but the ball did not go to hand. A further chance also went astray as Rob Dewey ran towards the posts, but they continued to increase the pressure in attack and Rory Lamont put the first points on the board in the twelfth minute. The Scots were awarded a free kick and Simon Taylor quickly ran the ball before it was spun out to the full back to squeeze past the defence and stretch for the line. Parks added the conversion for a 7-0 lead after 13 minutes.
The younger Lamont brother wasted no time in crossing the line to post the Scot’s second try just two minutes later. Allister Hogg caught a Portuguese kick and sped off with support. The ball was recycled and strung out to the right wing where the full back was waiting finish the move, with Jason White’s distribution again to the fore. Once more, Parks was successful with the conversion making it 14-0 after 16 minutes.
On his brace of tries, Rory Lamont said: “I hoped to get a one or two more but they didn’t come my way. It was a really tough game. They were tenacious at the breakdown and we didn’t get as much quick ball as we’d hoped. They are pretty stocky guys and it was by no means easy to get the points we scored.
“Maybe we didn’t have the urgency at the breakdown and were a bit slow in support but that is something that can be fixed pretty easily. We know it’ll be tough against Romania and obviously there is room for improvement. It wasn’t a flawless performance and we now have ten days to put things right.”
The Portuguese then made a brief foray into the opposite half of the field having stolen possession of a loose ball at the breakdown but were penalised for holding on and play moved back upfield, although the Portuguese pack held firm.
Rory Lamont looked to have crossed the line for a third time but the Scots were penalised and Portugal kicked for a lineout. However, as was the case the majority of the evening, their throw-in was stolen and the Scots were on their way to a third try. With play moving back and forward, Parks launched a kick across to the left hand corner and it was hooker Scott Lawson who sprinted to take the ball cleanly and launch himself over the line. The stand-off added his third conversion of the evening 26 minutes in.
Portugal rallied after play resumed with their first phases of possession in the opposition’s 22. A quick tap penalty then put the Scots’ defence under pressure but they held firm, until left wing Pedro Carvalho crossed in 28 minutes. Duarte Cardoso Pinto converted.
Unflustered, the Scots responded immediately with Hogg catching Parks’ short re-start kick and made ground before Rob Dewey took the ball on and notched up Scotland’s fourth and bonus point try with Parks’ conversion making it 28-7.
The Portuguese then drew back three points as Pinto successfully kicked a penalty but that was to be their last of the evening, despite the best efforts of their left wing.
The fortieth minute saw Allan Jacobsen retire from the field with what appeared a serious injury to his left leg. He was replaced by Gavin Kerr.
Just as the half drew to an end, Portugal’s Joao Uva was yellow carded for persistent offside and the Scots looked set to end the half on a high, as the pack pushed on in the right corner and Scott Murray crossed the line, but the television match official decided he lost control of the ball and the half ended at 28-10.
The Scots looked as though they were about to score early in the second half only for the ball to be intercepted by Portugal’s Carvalho who thought he’d run in his second try of the night. But unknown to him Steve Walsh had indicated he was offside - his sprint and animated celebration were in vain.
Once the Portuguese were restored to 15 men nine minutes after the break, they put on their best display of the evening, but failed to push into the Scotland half. They were also helped by the Scots losing some of their earlier sharpness. However they regrouped by the end of the third quarter and Simon Webster scythed through the defence to find Parks on his shoulder to make the short run to the line for the fifth try of the night. He added the conversion to his earlier haul before he was replaced by Chris Paterson.
Parks, who was playing in his first World Cup match, said: “I’m happy with my kicking and it’s always nice to score a try, especially from that distance! Overall we’re happy, we got the five points and now we move onto Romania. It wasn’t easy at all. They kept coming at us and it was a tough match.
“The atmosphere was awesome. I didn’t know what to expect but the whole thing has been great. Everyone says the World Cup has a carnival atmosphere and this was my first taste on it and I want to get plenty more.”
After another flurry from the Portuguese, Scotland were on the move again, from an initial penalty they moved the ball out wide. Webster darted through the defence and offloaded to Hugo Southwell, who had earlier replaced Di Rollo, and he ran over the line. Paterson converted to increase their lead to 42-10 after 63 minutes.
Further changes were made with Scott MacLeod, Rory Lawson and Kelly Brown and coming off the bench for their first taste of World Cup rugby. And the last of that trio had little time to wait until he scored a try which Paterson converted.
Portugal’s Carvalho looked as though he may finally get his second try of night as the match drew to a close but Paterson hauled him down just short of the line and instead the Scots were the last to score, from an initial penalty kick which Sean Lamont hoofed far upfield. Ross Ford, Scotland’s last substitution of the evening, crossed to take the Scots over the half century of points and Paterson continued the perfect night of kicking, his conversion making it 56-10 at the final whistle.
Scotland’s most capped player Scott Murray summed up the feeling in the changing room. “It was a great workout for us. We didn’t play as well as we can but the Portuguese were pretty fearless in the way they tackled and got round the pitch and all credit to them.
“The lineouts went well and the scrum was good and there was a lot we did well on the day. We worked hard on the lineout during the week getting in systems to win ball and the way the guys switched into it was awesome.”
The only sour note after the match was the injury to Jacobsen’s left calf. Frank Hadden said: “It didn’t look good and he will be assessed as soon as possible. He’s gone to hospital for scan and we’ll know shortly. Unfortunately Marcus was struggling thoughout having taken a knock early on, although that was another opportunity for Simon Webster at outside centre.”
Rory Lamont, Sean Lamont, Marcus Di Rollo (Hugo Southwell, 52 mins), Rob Dewey, Simon Webster, Dan Parks (Chris Paterson 61 mins), Mike Blair (Rory Lawson 71 mins), Allan Jacobsen (Gavin Kerr 39 minutes), Scott Lawson (Ross Ford 73 mins), Euan Murray, Nathan Hines, Scott Murray (Scott Macleod 64 mins), Jason White CAPTAIN (Kelly Brown 64 mins), Simon Taylor , Allister Hogg.
Tries: R Lamont 2, S Lawson, R Dewey, D Parks, H Southwell, K Brown, R Ford. Cons: D Parks 5, Paterson 3
Pedro Leal, David Mateus, Federico Sousa (Miguel Portela 39 mins), Diogo Mateus, Pedro Carvalho, Duarte Cardoso Pinto (Pedro Cabral 60 mins), José Pinto (Luis Pissarra 66 mins), Rui Cordeiro (Juan Manuel Murré 60 mins), Joaquim Ferreira (João Correia 52 mins), Ruben Spachuck, Gonçalo Uva, David Penalva (Paulo Murinello 53 mins), Juan Severino Somoza, João Uva (Diogo Coutinho 64 mins), Vasco Uva CAPTAIN.
Try: P Carvalho. Con: D C Pinto. Pen: D C Pinto
Referee: Steve Walsh
Man of the match: Vasco Uva