Townsend turns the tide in Scot­land’s favour

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Four Forty Five -

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.”

TRE­BLE MAKER Sey­mour cel­e­brates his hat-trick of tries CRUISE CON­TROL GLORY Kiwi ace Read

TOWNSEND Re­warded

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