Scotland’s defensive frailties are exposed by stubborn Samoans
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