Scotland 28-12 Fiji: Scotland struggle to impress despite Murrayfield win


Scotland laboured to an autumn international win over determined Fiji on a very uncomfortable afternoon for Gregor Townsend’s side at Murrayfield.

George Turner and Adam Hastings scored first-half tries for the Scots, but Fiji had two of their own through Setariki Tuicuvu and Ratu Rotuisolia.

The home side struggled to get any fluency into their game, but tries from Duhan van der Merwe and Ben White added gloss to the scoreline.

The Scots play New Zealand next Sunday.

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After last weekend’s agonising one-point loss to Australia, and with the All Blacks coming to town next weekend, it was vital Scotland put Fiji away here to get the show back on the road.

Vern Cotter was back in the Murrayfield coaches’ box, this time in charge of Fiji. Given the nature of his exit as Scotland boss in 2017 to make way for Townsend, you would imagine he would not mind one bit setting the cat among the Scottish pigeons by masterminding a shock victory here.

Talent is rarely an issue for Fiji sides. Structure and discipline tend to be the missing components and that was underlined when lock Rotuisolia saw yellow 90 seconds into his Test debut for a silly block on Ali Price from an offside position.

Scotland soon made their numerical advantage count, Turner biding his time at the back of the rolling line-out maul to touch down for the opening try.

Fiji’s response was impressive and immediate. Some effective phase play set the platform for the backs to go wide and when the ball reached Tuicuvu, the wing evaded the clutches of Stuart Hogg to finish superbly in the corner.

The Murrayfield crowd began to grow restless when Fiji crossed again, Rotuisolia atoning for his earlier rush of blood to the head by blasting over from close range to round off another period of pressure.

Hogg was sent to the bin, paying the price for a string of infringements from his team. Scotland’s discipline was crumbling – seven penalties conceded in the first half alone – while Fiji were playing all the rugby.

Hastings, given his chance at 10 in place of Blair Kinghorn, provided the one bit of quality in an otherwise poor 40 minutes for the Scots when he danced through some weak Fiji scrum defence to go over under the sticks. Scotland led by two at the break, a lead they scarcely deserved.

Hastings tried a similar dart early in the second half, but instead of a gap all he found was the hulking figure of Rotuisolia, who hit with such shuddering force in the tackle that Hastings’ match was over there and then, Kinghorn summoned from the bench.

The Edinburgh fly-half was involved in Scotland’s third try, feeding Chris Harris who found Van der Merwe with a long pass and the winger did what he does best, powering over the line with several Fijian defenders hanging off him.

After the agony of his last-gasp penalty miss against Australia, Kinghorn struck the touchline conversion beautifully to give the home side some daylight on the scoreboard at 21-12.

Still any sort of rhythm was absent from Scotland’s play, and a Mexican Wave breaking out in the 65th minute said everything about the quality of fare being served up on the pitch.

Substitute White almost conjured a fourth Scottish try, but his clever cross-field kick from the base of a scrum just slipped from Darcy Graham’s grasp, while Cam Redpath was denied a first Test try when the TMO spotted an earlier knock-on from Jack Dempsey.

White ensured the fourth try finally arrived, sauntering over untouched with Fiji’s defence – with a man in the bin for the third time in the match – posted missing.

It was the win Scotland desperately needed, but this was far from a satisfactory performance. If they are to entertain any notion of a first-ever victory over New Zealand next weekend, they will need to find a level of performance this team has not produced in quite some time.


Scotland: Hogg, Graham, Harris, Redpath, Van Der Merwe, Hastings, Price; Schoeman, Turner, Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, Fagerson

Replacements: Ashman, Sutherland, Walker, J Gray, Depmsey, White, Kinghorn, Tuipulotu

Fiji: Murimurivalu, Tuicuvu, Nayacalevu, Ravouvou, Habosi, Botitu, Lomani; Mawi, Matavesi, Sauto, Mayanavanua, Rotuisolia, Tuisue, Botia, Mata

Replacements: Ikanivere, Natave, Tagi, Ratuniyarawa, Kamikamica, Matawalu, Tela, Maqala

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