Scot­land’s de­fen­sive frail­ties are ex­posed by stub­born Samoans

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Richard Bath at Mur­ray­field

That faint but un­mis­tak­able noise new Scot­land coach Gre­gor Townsend may have heard on the fi­nal whis­tle was the sound of the All Blacks and Wal­la­bies lick­ing their lips. If Scot­land play like this against New Zealand and Aus­tralia over the next two weeks, they will be evis­cer­ated.

“There are a lot of things we’ll have to work on but we scored a lot of points in an in­ter­na­tional,” said Townsend af­ter his first Mur­ray­field match as Scot­land head coach.

Scot­land did at least dom­i­nate the open­ing minute, claim­ing the first try af­ter they turned over the ball in mid­field. Finn Rus­sell’s grub­ber put the ball be­hind the Samoan de­fen­sive line and Tommy Sey­mour hacked it over full-back Ah­see Tuala and into the arms of the on­rush­ing Stu­art Hogg.

Tim Nanai-Wil­liams’ first penalty fell short, but the stand-off atoned af­ter Jonny Gray and Hamish Wat­son strayed off­side at a ruck.

Rus­sell re­sponded with two penal­ties. But Samoa clawed their way back as TJ Ioane and hooker Manu Leiataua set up sec­ond row Josh Tyrell for the Pa­cific islanders’ first try.

Scot­land re­opened the gap with two tries. Cen­tre Huw Jones stepped in­side one tack­ler and pow­ered through blind­side flanker Pi­ula Fa’asalele for the first. In in­jury time, Scot­land kicked to the cor­ner for Stu­art McI­nally to mark his first Mur­ray­field start with a try. He got a sec­ond from a line-out drive at the start of the sec­ond half and when Rus­sell’s touch­line con­ver­sion made it 32-10, the con­test should have ef­fec­tively been over.

But Samoa’s for­wards im­me­di­ately punched down the mid­dle, push­ing Scot­land back un­til blind­side Fa’ase­lele mus­cled his way over, then Nanai-Wil­liams arced out­side Rus­sell to burst through for a try that he con­verted.

Alex Dun­bar then du­pli­ca­teed the feat at the other end. The Samoans stormed back with a try by cen­tre Kieron Fono­tia to move back within six points. Horne capped an im­pres­sive cameo with a try when a cute in­side pass from Cor­nell du Preez put him clear, yet still it wasn’t over.

Re­place­ment open side Ofisa Tre­vi­ranus cap­i­talised on Scot­land’s com­i­cally por­ous de­fend­ing, gal­lop­ing over when the thin blue line opened es­pe­cially for him.

Early prom­ise: Huw Jones scores the Scots’ sec­ond try be­fore Samoa stormed back

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