Player Ratings: Scotland
OPINION: Scotland’s improbable route to the knockout phase of the Rugby World Cup is still alive after a 45-17 bonus point win over Tonga in Nice.
After Ireland’s win over the Springboks in Paris, Gregor Townsend’s side knew they required maximum points to have any chance of qualifying from Pool B.
And after a two-week break following the defeat to the Springboks in their opener, Scotland produced a much-improved performance to see off the Ikale Tahi.
Here’s how the Scotland players rated as they recorded their first win of this World Cup.
15. Blair Kinghorn – 7.5
An erratic opening for the Edinburgh man, who should have scored from his own kick. But he grew into the game and cut a lovely line to go over and put the game to bed. With the result secure, he should’ve had another try late on.
14. Kyle Steyn – 7.5
Four tries against Tonga the last time these sides met, and another today as the Glasgow captain finished a move he started from a lineout.
13. Chris Harris – 7
The Gloucester man was brought in by Gregor Townsend to add physicality to the midfield, and did well in that area. Also showed his attacking prowess with a couple of decent half breaks.
12. Sione Tuipulotu – 7.5
The man with the Tongan father was busy with the ball, taking the game to the Tongan midfield. He also showed lovely hands to free Finn Russell for Duhan van der Merwe’s try.
11. Duhan van der Merwe – 7.5
Brushed off by Salesi Piutau from the first kick-off, and walloped by Kata on quarter of an hour. The Edinburgh winger was unable to stop Piutau’s offload for Tonga’s opening try. But responded well with his 21st international try and a brilliant break on 68 minutes. Caught a bit of white line fever late on.
10. Finn Russell – 8
One of many who had a difficult outing against South Africa, but he was back firing the Scottish attack today. His wide passing game caused Tonga real problems throughout. Also looked comfortable as captain following Jamie Ritchie’s departure. Only real disappointment was his wild clearance kick which gave Tonga a chance from which Ben Tameifuna barrelled over.
9. Ben White – 6.5
There were some good moments but the scrum-half didn’t have things all his own way. Caught a couple of times at the ruck and with a kick. Made way early in the second half and may be wrapped in cotton wool before Ireland meeting in a fortnight.
1. Rory Sutherland – 7
Conceded a ninth-minute scrum penalty from which the Tongans got on the board, but got the upper hand on Tameifuna as the half wore on. Also showed his pace with a strong first-half carry. Prominent early in the second half too.
2. George Turner – 6.5
A much better outing than against the Springboks when the lineout crumbled under pressure, and though it wasn’t perfect, it did give Scotland a decent platform. Backed up his try in the 2021 win over Tonga with his 10th Test score, from a rampaging maul.
3. Zander Fagerson – 6.5
Solid if unspectacular from the tighthead. Worked hard at the coalface and some powerful carries into the heart of the Tongan pack.
4. Richie Gray – 7
Will be delighted with the improvements at the lineout and offered a good carrying option. A really poor attempted tackle on Tameifuna for his try.
5. Scott Cummings – 7.5
Replaced Grant Gilchrist after an impressive cameo off the bench in Marseille. Some good carrying in close quarters – including for George Horne’s try. Also showed his work-rate to chase White’s kick and haul Piutau into touch.
6. Jamie Ritchie – 6
A couple of wayward passes trying to find Russell, but responded each time by putting his head down and getting over the gain line. The second occasion allowed Scotland space from which Steyn scored. Forced off just before half-time after a high tackle for which Afusipa Taumoepeau was very lucky not to see red.
7. Rory Darge – 6.5
Not able to impact the breakdown, but worked hard in defence and good work to score the all-important bonus point try right at the end of the first half.
8. Jack Dempsey – 7.5
Becoming such a vital cog for Scotland, and again important today. A couple of powerful carries put Scotland on the front foot, but the ex-Wallaby missed an opportunity to free van der Merwe up the touchline from a restart.
16. Ewan Ashman – 6
Back from a concussion to make his World Cup debut in the final 15 minutes. Won a turnover immediately and then barrelled into contact, but lost a lineout and was turned over. Will likely get another go against Romania.
17. Pierre Schoeman – 6.5
With half an hour to go. Made his debut and scored first Test try in this fixture two years ago.
18. WP Nel – 6.5
Replaced Nel for the final quarter and put the Tongan scrum under pressure.
19. Sam Skinner – 6
So unlucky to miss the World Cup four years ago with a hamstring injury, but finally made his World Cup bow on 65 minutes, replacing Richie Gray.
20. Matt Fagerson – 6.5
On for the skipper with the first half in its closing stages and worked tirelessly, as is his way.
21. George Horne – 7
On for the final half hour, the Glasgow man added tempo to a stuttering second half performance, and his try on 53 minutes proved crucial. Should start against Romania.
22. Huw Jones – 6.5
A couple of half-breaks after replacing Harris and made a couple of half breaks. Dropped the ball from van der Merwe’s long pass late on, but made amends with an offload that resulted in Graham’s scampering over.
23. Darcy Graham – 7
Replaced Steyn and immediately went looking for work. Glided round Tameifuna at the start of the move that ended with Horne’s try. Good chase forced Taumoepeau to rush his kick and gave Scotland good territory. Then showed his pace to score his 20th try for Scotland.
By Gavin Harper