Planet Rugby

Scotland muddle through

18th September 2007 21:41

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Chris Paterson grubber

Chris Paterson chips his way to the opening try

Scotland gained all five points on offer on Tuesday with a 42-0 win over Romania on Tuesday, but it was an error-ridden display against a poor opposition.

This was anything but a vintage display from Scotland, but they came away from a severely depleted Murrayfield with a winning bonus point, so to that effect it was mission accomplished. However do not let that deceive you, this was a worrying display from a team who now face two games that will decide their World Cup fate.

There were several glimmers of what Scotland could achieve, but then there were countless more reasons why they won't achieve it. Any side who coughs up possession with such ease and regularity, more often than not in crucial areas, will struggle. Their only saving grace was the fact Romania were unable to do anything meaningful with the ball.

That they managed to score six tries is more a reflection of Romania's lack of defensive shape after three phases than a honest show of their own ability. For had they managed to eradicate the careless errors it could have been a far more impressive scoreline.

Add to that the air of arrogance Scotland had, and it will be of major concern to Frank Hadden that his side failed to fully punish Romania. Three times in the first half they had kickable penalties, leading by only fourteen points, and three times they went for the corner, only to either lose the resulting line-out or turn the ball over on first phase.

As when Italy played Romania, it seemed as if an early Scottish try would pave the way for an assured and controlled performance. Instead, it served only to lead Scotland to believe this would be far easier than they proceeded to make it. Paterson was the scorer, having chipped ahead for himself he somehow managed to squeeze between three defenders to apply the necessary downward pressure for the try.

For all their brawn Romania hinted that they may have a little brain to go with it, but every time they burst through the Scottish defence they opted for contact with the last defender rather than looking for support. The result, in keeping with the rest of the game, was yet more errors, followed by a few more from Scotland for good measure.

When Scotland did manage to construct meaningful, error-free attacks, they made scoring look far less laboured than during their error-prone thrusts for the line. Allister Hogg's first of three tries was a prime example. A structured and powerful catch and drive from a five metre line out resulted in the bustling flank plopping over for a simple score.

As if to prove it was no fluke the Scots added another fine try as half time approached. A series of handling errors handed Scotland an attacking scrum deep in the Oaks' 22. Rob Dewey set the platform, the forwards recycled quick possession, Mike Blair fizzed the pass out to Dan Parks who sucked in a defender and fired the scoring pass out to Rory Lamont. In the space of fifteen seconds Scotland demonstrated they have the ability to play devastating rugby, a shame then that they forgot the lesson when the game started again.

Whatever Frank Hadden said to his players at half-time, with regards to the errors, did not sink in. The shambolic manner in which they received, or rather attempted to receive, the restart was evidence enough that they failed to take heed of any words of wisdom that were whispered.

Ionut Tofan, a half-time Romanian substitute, appeared to hand Scotland a try on the proverbial silver platter, only to see Mike Blair look the gift horse in the mouth and concede a penalty for a double movement. Had he been going for the line on his own it would have been understandable. Given then that he had countless support players around him, and just the one defender, it was a shocking waste.

Allister Hogg's brace soon after, the first of which secured the bonus point, saved some face for Blair but did little else in terms of redemption for the rest of his side. That it then took a further twenty minutes before Scotland added to their tally was testament to the dogged fight in the Romanians.

Eventually Rory Lamont did add a sixth score, although Scott Lawson did his best to waste a five-man overlap. Lucky for him that when Lamont took up the ball he showed great pace and a clever running angle to finish the move off.

A win for Scotland it may have been, a display that will ensure they go into the two real tests in the pool with confidence it was not. Italy will be licking their lips and preparing to heap misery on the Scots when they finally return to France. And the sooner they do the better, as Murrayfield was not even half-full, a poor reflection of what the World Cup means to so many fans outside of the host country.

Man of the Match: There were not too many Romanian players who can be nominated for this award, and precious few more from Scotland. Marius Tincu had a constructive first half before being taken off, and once again Iulian Dumitras showed promise. However this award goes the way of Scotland, although only marginally. Allister Hogg was mildly impressive, three tries yes, but it was more a case of the right place at the right time. Chris Paterson was solid in defence, sharp in attack and perfect with the boot. But it is Rory Lamont who sneaks it. A few errors aside he was the shinning light for Scotland, ever breaking tackles and crossing the gain line, and he scored two fine tries to cap his evening.

Moment of the Match: Allister Hogg's second try that secured the bonus point and achieved what Scotland set out to do. They now know it will come down to their final pool game, with Italy, to decide who advances to the quarter-finals as runner-up.

Villain of the Match: None, unless the award can go to the player who made the most errors, as that in itself tells the story of this game. But there were too many to count.

The scorers:

For Scotland:

Tries: Paterson, Hogg 3, Rory Lamont 2

Cons: Paterson 6

Scotland: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Simon Webster, 12 Rob Dewey, 11 Chris Paterson, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Allister Hogg, 6 Jason White, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Gavin Kerr.

Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Craig Smith, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Kelly Brown, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Hugo Southwell, 22 Nikki Walker.

Romania: 15 Iulian Dumitras, 14 Catalin Fercu, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Romeo Gontineac, 11 Gabriel Brezoianu, 10 Ionut Dimofte, 9 Lucian Sirbu, 8 Ovidiu Tonita, 7 Alexandru Manta, 6 Florin Corodeanu, 5 Cristian Petre, 4 Sorin Socol (c), 3 Bogdan Balan, 2 Marius Tincu, 1 Petrisor Toderasc

Replacements: 16 Silviu Florea, 17 Razvan Mavrodin, 18 Cosmin Ratiu, 19 Alexandru Tudori, 20 Valentin Calafeteanu, 21 Ionut Tofan, 22 Florin Vlaicu

Referee: Nigel Owens

Touch judges: Craig Joubert, Christophe Berdos

Television match official: Mark Lawrence

Assessor: Bob Francis

By Marcus Leach

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