Big win for Scotland as they bag bonus point
MATCH REPORT: Scotland kept their quarterfinal hopes alive with a superb 45-17 victory over Samoa scoring seven beautifully crafted tries in the process at Stade de Nice on Sunday.
Scotlands’ first try came six minutes into the game from a maul that drove close to 20 metres and over went hooker George Turner.
It took the Tongans 10 minutes to take the lead after their backs opted for the short side and sent the big man Solomone Kata over. Havili converted and the men in red were leading 10-7.
But you can’t keep the big Duhan Van der Merwe away from the try-line for long and it was the tall South African that went in for his 21st try for Scotland to edge them in front by two points (12-10).
And then it was the turn of Kyle Steyn, another South African born, to slice through the Tongans’ flyhalf and centre, stretching his tries against Tonga to five.
Finn Russell missed the conversion, but Scotland was leading 17-10.
Scotland worked hard for their bonus point try just before halftime, but Van der Merwe could not get over in the corner. Eventually it was Rory Darge who barged over after a scrum in front of Tongas posts.
Scotland were leading 24-10 at halftime with a bonus point in the bag.
Typically, as with most games where Tonga is involved, there were some bone splitting hits, putting Van der Merwe and centre Sione Tuipulotuon on their backsides.
But Tonga is known for collecting colourful cards, especially at the World Cup, and in the 32nd minute Afusipa Taumoepeau was sent off for a dangerous tackle. The bunker review system decided not to upgrade the infringement to a red.
Tonga opened the second half with a brilliant forceful try with captain Ben Tameifuna finishing off a move that was started by their fleet footed Malakai Fekitoa.
With the try converted, Tonga closed the gap to 17-24.
And then it was that man Van der Merwe again. He was not going to let the big men in red jerseys hold him back as he bumped the massive Solomone Kata to go and score in the corner.
Scotland 31, Tonga 17 as 20 minutes were left on the clock and everything was going the way of blue jerseys with the thistle on their chest.
Van der Merwe, true to his reputation, had a magnificent second half, running and stepping around the Tongan defence with aplomb. He beat 14 defenders out there, which is the most ever by a Scotland player in a World Cup game.
By this time, the game has become loose and Scotland just tried from every angle to break through the defence with confidence.
Russell was the true master at flyhalf, dictating proceedings with accurate precision.
When the replacements entered the fray, the match was all but in the bag for men in blue.
Tonga however did not learn their lesson and with four minutes to go, Vaea Fifita got his marching orders for a shoulder charge.
And while the time was finished on the clock, Scotland kept playing which saw replacement Darcy Graham run 40 metres for their seventh try.
With this win, Scotland kept their quarterfinal hopes alive after losing to South Africa in their opening game.
Man of the Match: Duhan van der Merwe for his outstanding and powerful runs, asking questions of the opposition all the time. He scored two brilliant tries. The big win confirmed afterwards that he had never been hit quite so hard in a rugby game.
Tries: Turner, Van der Merwe 2, Steyn, Darge, Kinghorn, Graham
Cons: Russel 4
Tries: Kata, Tameifuna
Cons: Havili 2
Yellow cards: Afusipa Taumoepeau (Samoa, 32’ – shoulder charge), Vaea Fifita (Samoa, 76’ – shoulder charge)
Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben White, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18. WP Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 George Horne, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Darcy Graham
Tonga: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 10 William Havili, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Sione Talitui, 6 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Halaleva Fifita, 3 Ben Tameifuna (captain), 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi
Replacements: 16 Sam Moli, 17 Tau Koloamatangi, 18 Sosefo Apikotoa, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Semisi Paea, 21 Sione Vailanu, 22 Sonatane Takulua, 23 Patrick Pellegrini
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)