Scotland V Samoa
Scotland posted their highest score against Samoa and recorded their sixth successive home victory since last year’s Autumn Tests in a contest of 11 tries at BT Murrayfield this afternoon.
Having led 25-10 at half-time and 32-10 early in the second-half, there will be plenty for the home management led by head coach Gregor Townsend, to focus upon ahead of the remaining two Autumn Tests against New Zealand and Australia in the next fortnight.
Samoa were tenacious and – just as they had at St James’ Park, Newcastle, when the sides last met two years ago – exploited opportunities which came from their own restart kicks.
When Samoa did threaten to find a way back into the game in the closing stages, Scotland kept their composure and eventually achieved the victory that much of the earlier play had suggested would arrive a wee bit easier.
Despite the victory, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend admits that his side have plenty to work on before next week's clash against New Zealand, and said: “First off all, credit to Samoa. I thought they played a lot of great rugby and for the first 15 minutes of the match, they kept the ball excellently. Whenever we gave them spice out wide, or gifted them possession, they made the most of them. We’ve got a lot to work on, but we thought that would be the case. We were up against tough opposition today. It was our first game and we’re happy with the win, but we’ve got a lot to work on in attack and defence."
Samoa kicked-off towards the railway end in front a record crowd for the fixture.
Scotland were soon on the attack from a turnover and from a kick that Finn Russell threaded through delicately, the bounce was wicked for the Samoan full-back, but perfect for Stuart Hogg who gathered to score his 17th try for Scotland. Russell converted (7-0, 2 mins).
Russell miscued with a penalty to touch and Samoa shaped nicely on their first attack, but tigerish work from Hamish Watson at the breakdown enabled Scotland to clear their lines.
Samoa’s first chance of points was passed up as Nanai-Williams’s effort didn’t have the legs from wide on the left on the 10m line. A simpler offside effort three minutes later saw the stand-off on target. (7-3, 12 mins).
In Scotland’s riposte from a quickly taken lineout, it required an intercept from Ah See Tuala to deny Lee Jones a try from Hogg’s pass, but Scotland soon added to their tally through a Russell penalty (10-3, 15 mins).
Scotland again threatened with Russell’s grubber kick once again inducing alarm in the visitors’ defence, Lee Jones got boot to ball and Hogg pounced. Referee Nic Berry called for the TMO and the replay showed Russell’s kick had grazed the touchline and the score was correctly ruled void.
Russell nailed his second penalty as the game moved into its second quarter (13-3, 24 mins) but Samoa were rewarded for opting for the touchline route from a penalty as they engineered ruck ball from which Josh Tyrell drove over for a score duly confirmed by the TMO. Nanai Williams converted. (13-10, 27 mins).
Scotland regained ascendancy, as true to their pre-match intentions they sought to play the game at tempo, epitomised by Hogg’s quickly taken lineout, Russell’s sortie, forward support and then Hogg’s long feed setting up Huw Jones.
The centre, recently fresh from a Currie Cup triumph in South Africa, had burst on the scene in last season’s first Autumn Test, and he repeated his try-scoring exploits today with another beautifully crafted score, dummying Jones on his outside and then having the strength to power to the line. Russell missed the conversion (18-10, 35 mins).
Scotland added points at the perfect time. Samoan mis-handling had set up a scrum five. A free kick and penalty were conceded with the clock red for half-time. Russell then opted for the touchline and from Ben Toolis’s take, Stuart McInally surged over for Scotland’s third try. It was the hooker’s first for his country. Russell converted.
Half-time: Scotland 25 Samoa 10.
Russell, with such confidence in his running game, opened the second-half by setting up Toolis and Ali Price on an attack that took Scotland into the Samoan 22. A penalty to touch set up Scotland for a lineout and part one – a take from Toolis – worked a treat, for part two to follow and McInally, later named Eden Mill man of the match, rumbled over for his second try. Russell converted (32-10, 47 mins)
Scotland did not take the restart kick cleanly and from that passage of play Samoa went through their close-range pick and go repertoire for Piulla Fa’asalele to be awarded a try by the TMO on a very quick glance at the replay, some Scots in the crowd wishing perhaps there had been something of a more forensic analysis of whether Price had got his hand under the ball. Nanai-Williams converted (32-17, 49 mins).
Just shy of the hour, Scotland went to their bench with new caps Jamie Bhatti, Chris Harris and George Turner joining the fray.
Samoa again went to the touchline and drove relentlessly – clearing bodies before the ball – but no matter as referee Berry awarded the try to Nanai-Williams who had sailed through a gap for the score he converted himself (32-24, 63 mins).
Scotland won a penalty, again opted for the touchline and though the well-worked Toolis/McInally combo did not complete a hat-trick, possession was retained for Pete Horne to fire a kick to the left flank, Jones gather and his fellow former Selkirk team-mate Alex Dunbar bulldozed over (37-24, 67 mins). It was Dunbar’s seventh try for Scotland.
Kick-off receipt was again scrappy for Scotland and Samoa punished them clinically with substitute scrum-half, Matavao, the first to menace and then Fonotia thundered over from close-range. Nanai Williams converted and Samoa were within a converted try (37-31, 69 mins).
Scotland needed to find another score and from Hogg’s scamper off Cornell de Prreez’s feed, Du Preez then got involved again as he relased Pete Horne on a 30-metre romp to the try line. Horne converted his own try, his third for Scotland (44-31, 73 mins).
The bewildering scoring pattern continued as Ofisa Treviranus scuttled in from a ruck for Nanai Williams to convert (44-38, 76 mins).
No further dramas thereafter and the crowd, confirmed as a 67,144-sell-out flooded out from the stadium in high spirits.
Final Score: Scotland 44 Samoa 38
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Lee Jones; Finn Russell, Ali Price (all Glasgow Warriors); Darryl Marfo, Stuart McInally, Willem Nell, Ben Toolis (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Scartlet) CAPTAIN, Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).Subs: George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) for McInally 58 mins , Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) for Marfo 58 mins, Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) for Nel 31 mins, Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) for Toolis 71 mins, Cornell du Preez (Edinburgh Rugby) for Barclay 58 mins, Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) for Price 65 mins, Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Russell 65 mins and Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) for Seymour 58 mins.
Samoa: Ah See Tuala; Paul Perez, Kieron Fonotia, Rey Lee-Lo, David Lemi; Tim Nanai-Williams, Pelefofoga Cowley; Jordan Lay, Manu Leiataua, Donald Brighouse, Josh Tyrell, Chris Vui captain, Piula Fa’asalele, T J Ioane , Jack Lam.Subs: Motu Matu’u for Leiataua 56 mins, James Lay, Hisa Sasagi for Brighouse 52 mins, Fa’atiga Lemalu for Tyrell 71 mins Ofisa Treviranus for Ioane 61 mins, Melani Matavao for Cowley 51 mins, AJ Mamoe Alatimu, Alapati Leiua for Lee-Lo.