Townsend turns the tide in Scotland’s favour
Laidlaw watched a 14-3 lead dissolve during the first-half as two tries briefly had the Pacific Islanders ahead.
But he’s adamant there was no doubt that a recovery mission would be launched before the Scots went on to seal an eight-try haul, with Tommy Seymour bagging three of them.
He said: “Our forwards did a great job in tiring Fiji out. We held on to the ball when we needed to and that was really pleasing.
“We scored just before half-time at a stage when we were getting a bit frustrated but nobody panicked.
“That put us ahead going into the break and then we were clinical.
“There are no easy games and Fiji have tremendous natural ability.
“Our defence really fired and that gave us opportunities. We opened them up with kick-plays and it was a good performance from the team.”
Ben Volavola kicked the away side into a three-point lead in the second minute and it was a first indication of the task of avenging a 27-22 defeat against the Paci f ic Islanders 17 months ago.
Another penalty followed but this time Volavola was short and wide of the posts.
Those early warnings soon gave way to some Scottish pressure that paid dividends with a 12th-minute try as Allan Del l touched down following a surge at the l ine, with Laidlaw adding the extras.
Fraser Brown then finished off from a ruck and Laidlaw converted to carry the home side into a 14-3 lead. That was eaten into minutes later as Viliame Mata punctured the Scots defence with an explosive burst to score and Volavola converted to reduce Fiji’s deficit to just four points.
The Islanders pounced again three minutes later as Semi Radradra dived over and Volavola put Fiji 17-14 up.
Tevita Cavubati went into the sinbin for deliberately collapsing a scrum as Scotland pushed for the line before Brown dived over for what he believed was a second try only for Jamie Ritchie to be penalised for crossing over.
Leone Nakarawa was next to see yellow for Fiji as they struggled to keep Scotland at bay.
Seymour then went over after being released by Finn Russell and Laidlaw squeezed his kick over to put Scotland four up at the break.
It was to get better just seconds after the restart as Sean Maitland went over and again Laidlaw converted.
The Scots secured another try as Seymour grabbed his second by going over from close-range and Laidlaw made no mistake. Seymour then finished off a five-man passing move to dive over at the corner for the game’s best moment.
Ritchie went over with two minutes left and Adam Hastings took it beyond 50 points before Russell’s conversion completed a Murrayfield demolition. Gregor Townsend last night saluted eight-try Scotland after a thumping of Fiji delivered a bounce-back from last weekend’s defeat to Wales.
The Dark Blues boss watched Tommy Seymour run in a hat-trick of scores with Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, Sean Maitland, Jamie Ritchie and Adam Hastings completing a 54-17 Autumn Test win over the Pacific Islanders.
After an emphatic display, Townsend admitted his side are now ready for Saturday’s clash with South Africa.
He said: “I’m not sure if we were big favourites going into the game given the threats that Fiji pose.
“The atmosphere in the ground again was fantastic. To get eight tries and have the players feel that atmosphere behind them is a huge boost going into next week.
“South Africa are arguably one of the best two sides in the world and this will be a step up.
“They’ve beaten New Zealand once and could have done it a second time.
“They have a huge pack, one which caused England a lot of problems last week.
“We believe they’re playing a level of rugby that can rival the best teams in the world right now.”
Scotland recovered from falling behind to two first-half Fiji tries and Townsend insists that the fightback was reward for patience and sticking to the game-plan.
He said: “Fiji were always going to be a tough opponent and we saw they could score from anywhere.
“To stick to what we felt was going to work was pleasing and the players built throughout the game.
“We kept on with that detailed approach around the set-piece which narrowed up the Fiji defence and allowed us to score tries.”
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