Planet Rugby

Scotland ease past Fiji

14th November 2009 16:11

Share:

Johnnie Beattie try v Fiji

Try time: Johnnie Beattie gets Scotland's ball rolling

Scotland began their November Test series - and Andy Robinson's tenure - with a comfortable 23-10 win over Fiji on Saturday.

An early second-half try - tinged with controversy - by Graeme Morrison put the Scots in a winning position, but despite the promise shown in the first half there might be a mild concern that the team failed to kick on and close out the win their set-piece superiority deserved.

They might see it as progress - Scotland had lost six of the last nine coming into this after all - but there's still a lot to do. Having worked themselves in good fashion to a 16-0 lead, Scotland conceded a soft try and went thoroughly into their shells, briefly peeking out to score a second try and then retreating as though caught in the glare of headlights.

Some of the first half was top notch from the Scots. There were some clever well-worked moves coming off the back of an utterly dominant set piece, not least the opening try. But the number of balls turned over and the comparatively high penalty count negated the momentum.

In the second half, the backs just couldn't seem to find the right angles to run and ran out of ideas far too fast, while the forwards seemed unable to tidy up the rucks. The defence held firm well enough, but also allowed the Fijians to build up momentum too quickly. Fiji were unable to punish, but a better opponent would have cleaned up.

Fiji will also not be entirely satisfied. All too rarely did their fabled hands begin to work and put players into space, the balance the team likes to strike between sevens and the full game tilted too far towards the latter; not their forte. Runners took the ball into contact but the support was slow - understandable given only three days of chaotic preparation but they'll have to analyse and reflect that a little more adventure could have reaped rewards.

One move in particular which took them to 2m away from the Scots' line, was begging for a glory finish. Instead the forwards took the ball on around the fringes a couple of phases too many and had it wrapped up. That won the Fijians a scrum, frequently a good source of Scottish possession.

After finding their feet during the first ten minutes and taking the lead with a Phil Godman penalty, Scotland struck first with a super try. Johnnie Beattie popped the ball down to Chris Cusiter off a line-out and the scrum-half scampered through, offloading to Beattie who took two players over the line with him. Those two players included Josefa Domolailai who subsequently left the field with an oxygen mask after sustaining a horrible leg injury.

Further penalties followed from Godman, as well as one that struck the post, as Scotland exploited their scrumming superiority mercilessly, but Fiji built up a couple of good heads of steam as well, and scored a sucker-punch try just before half time. A series of rucks near the Scottish line built the momentum before the pass went out to an unopposed Vereneki Goneva for a simple finish, but questions will be asked as to why Simon Danielli chose that moment to cut inside on defence and leave Goneva free.

Half-time at 16-7 was comfortable enough and within five minutes of the second half, Graeme Morrison - benefitting from a monstrous knock-on right in the blind spot of the officials - crashed over under the posts, with Godman making it 23-7.

That should have been a catalyst, no matter how hard the Fijians fought. The blue scrum was shoving the white eight from loosehead to tight and the line-out was solid, while poor Josh Matavesi at full-back for Fiji was having a nervous game. All the requisite weak spots were there, but Scotland got sloppy, falling over rucks, resorting to illegal scrummaging to hammer home their advantage and looking a little lackadaisical in support and on the hoof.

Nicky Little banged over a penalty for Fiji on the hour to bring them to within two scores, but the Fijians got tired as the game petered out a little. Only Napolioni Nalaga looked capable of breaking a line and causing danger, but he was not given enough time running with the ball.

With six minutes to go, Fiji had worked their way to the line and an overlap - with Nalaga on the end of it - was begging. It could have been a very uncomfortable final few minutes for Scotland, but the Fiji forwards took the wrong option, winning only a scrum, from which they lost the ball. A win for Scotland, but lots to do.

Man of the match: Not a whole great deal of contenders, but while he was on the pitch, Chris Cusiter showed plenty of flashes and led the side ably in terms of both personnel and game play.

Moment of the match: Without a doubt Scotland's opening try, which should have inspired Scotland to bigger and better.

Villain of the match: Not a jot. No flying Fijian tackles - indeed the highest tackle of the day was by Alasdair Strokosch!

The scorers:

For Scotland:
Tries: Beattie, Morrison
Cons: Godman 2
Pens: Godman 3

For Fiji:
Try: Goneva
Con: Little
Pen: Little

Scotland: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Jason White, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Mike Blair, 21 Chris Paterson, 22 Nick De Luca.

Fiji: 15 Josh Matavesi, 14 Vereneki Goneva, 13 Gabirieli Lovobalavu, 12 Seremaia Bai (c), 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Moses Rauluni, 8 Asaeli Boko, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Josefa Domolailai, 5 Ifereimi Rawaqa, 4 Wame Lewaravu, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Vili Veikoso, 1 Alefoso Yalayalatabua.
Replacements: 16 Graham Dewes, 17 Sereli Ledua, 18 Leone Nakarawa, 19 Samu Bola, 20 Waisale Vatuvoka, 21 Jonetani Ratu, 22 Nasoni Roko.

Referee: Chris White (England)
Assistants: Carlo Damasco (Italy), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Guillio De Santis (Italy)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058