Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Fiji 25 – 37 Scotland

With two tries from debutant Tim Visser and 22 points from Greig Laidlaw, Scotland managed to score fairly freely against a thunderous Fijian side, but too often fell into playing the home side’s flying game. They looked assured of their win in this entertaining affair, even if they had to endure some tense moments.

The game at Churchill, Lautoka started off in the favour of the hosts. Ploughing into contact and drawing in Scots like flies to syrup the Fijians were able to pull two penalties clear before the 10 minute mark, through Jonetani Ralulu.

In response the Scots decided to draw the Fijian heavy fire, a tactic necessary when playing against the physical side, and as neat passing saw Visser take his first proper trip up the touchline there was a sense that Scotland were prepared to build phases. As Visser hit Al Kellock inside the orders were being barked by Laidlaw. The phases culminated in the stand-off sneaking over from short and as he converted his own kick it was 7-6 for Scotland.

The game plan looked to be setting in and when the forwards cracked the Fiji scrum 5m out the referee had no option but to go under the posts and make it 14-6.

The half ended 24-11 to Scotland, after a Fijian counter score from Josefa Domolailai, but the stand out in the half was a slick move where Scotland brutalised another scrum, used the hands and De Luca sprung Visser who greedily scorched over 20m and dotted down in the corner for his first ever Scottish score.

Laidlaw converted from touch and the half ended, with the away side happy but in need of tightening the game up. The scrum was dominating when the mood was taken and Rennie and Strokosch were allowing quick ball, but continuity was fitful.

The start to the second half made this all too clear as Fiji broke from the kick-off. Nothing came off it, but the reminder was enough to force Rennie to burl through tackles and drag his side with him.

Laidlaw snapped another kicked through the posts, but the sizeable 27-11 score was to be short lived. Fiji tried to emulate their more organised opponents. Picking, pumping and barging towards the line captain Netani Talei urged his charges on. He carried himself and as he added his bulk to a drive that saw Waisea Nayacalevu slam the ball on the line.

The Fiji revival was on, and whilst John Barclay did his best to snaffle loose balls and Strokosch and Ryan Grant made tackle after tackle, shunted forward by a grunting Euan Murray, fly hacks and pressure was not enough.

With under 20 minutes left a misjudged charge from a kick saw Fiji blitz down the wing, and as a swaying slalom run saw defenders fall out of place led to a one-handed toss to Metuisela Talebulamaijaina who slid through Stuart Hogg with nice footwork and then poured under the posts. As Rolulu added the extras it was 27-25 and Scotland were sweating.

Scotland had to dig in and ignore the heat and their aching shoulders. Laidlaw knocked over another penalty, but 30-25 was still too close. They needed to be galvanised.

Nick De Luca answered the call by delivering a driving hit and helping to turnover the resurgent Fijians with 4 minutes left. Then he helped chase a high kick from Laidlaw. The cover hesitated and as De Luca caught the ball he only had to gut pass to Visser, who made a hand off of his own and stormed to his second try and the score that ensured victory, 37-25.

Fiji looked for one last consolation score by bursting through wearied defenders, but Hogg and substitute Sean Lamont streaked back to snuff out the chance.

Scorched and sore, Scotland celebrated the win. Taking part in a huddle and prayer with their gracious hosts, there was a sense that a game was won but something more important had taken place. Scotland beat a team for valuable ranking points and won their second game of the tour, but this game is also significant as one of the first world nations toured the Pacific Islands.

The game against Samoa gets more and more interesting.

14 Responses

  1. We often say Visser’s success is built on NDL’s shoulders, both his tries today came from De Luca passes. With Laidlaw and Scott inside, Nick is finally starting to put some top performances together… his tackle just before Visser’s second try was probably the moment that sealed Fiji’s fate.

  2. Almost unwatchable on ESPN due to terrible picture quality and comical commentary (Gray referred to as Kellock and that he plays for Glasgow Rangers). Also disgusted by the BBC who failed to report the result never mind provide a match report until gone 10am in the uk and yet provided live txt commentary for the NZ Ireland match. Do either of these countries provide TV licence revenue?
    Alas, the broken images on ESPN meant that it was hard to decide how good, bad or indifferent we were. We looked very tired in the second half but i will put that down to the heat. Still, i was impressed we didnt throw it away this time but i would like to see us play with a lot more intensity and pace. the AB’s and ireland played what was one of the most ferocious matches i have ever seen yesterday. We need to set that type of play as a goal.

  3. Is there any word on where the Samoa match will be broadcast? There is no information on the ESPN site.

  4. I think the lack of coverage is absolutely shocking.I could listen to Radio Wales’ coverage of the Wales game on the BBC i player but we have not had any radio coverage for either test so.In fairness to previous comments do not forget that Ireland in rugby terms includes the Province Of Northern Ireland and I assume they pay a licence fee there? So can not object,just opine this makes it more galling we ignored. I have been unable to see any of the game and Tim Vissers’ start to what I hope will be a high scoring international career .

  5. Upgraded my Sky package to include ESPN on th assumption that both the Scottish matches would be covered. Is there any news yet on TV coverage for the Saqmoan match in the UK?

  6. Just to add to Alan Ewings comments I think it is a hell of a shame that there is no BBC coverage of the tour matches. Couldn’t BBC Alba have sent Hugh Dan McLennan. Even in the Gaelic I think HDM could have given us a better understanding of what was going on.
    ESPN bosses must be mad with the quality of the presentation for the Fiji game. I actually found it quite amusing with my partner labeling it retro-circa 1930s. The outstanding moments in the commentary were:
    1. Grieg Laidlaw repeatedly referred to as playing for Glasgow despite the fact the production team had captioned him at least twice as playing for ‘Edingburgh’. Brilliant.
    2. Richie Gray being called as Ali Kellock. At least there was some consistency there…
    3. The summariser saying to the commentator at the beginning of the second half over live audio- ‘Do you want me to sum that up.’
    4. I could not actually understand what the summariser was saying. He seemed to struggle with English, which is highly amusing since he apparently played for Australia.
    5. Consistent reference to the ‘Flying Fijians’ and never Fiji. We need to get ourselves a nickname… Flying Scots… perhaps that’s a bad choice.
    6. Commentary was a little biased at times, which I particularly enjoyed. Even when Fiji were going backwards they were still receiving all the plaudits and on one occasion if you weren’t watching the match through the milk bottle lens of the camera you would have sworn Fiji were on the break. Loved it.
    7. Was the game filmed in the early 80s. That would actually explain a lot… Calder et al. That performance by the current squad would definately be something that great squad of the eighties would have been proud of.
    Good match and great job Scotland. We seem much more at home in the Southern Hemisphere. Looking forward to Samoa.

  7. Regarding the broadcasting, comical commentary and poor quality pictures withstanding at least we were able to see this game, so good on ESPN for picking this one up. The picture editors at the BBC and our national newspapers frequently get it wrong when trying to name the Scottish player in their photo’s, so I think I can forgive the commentator for getting a bit mixed up. If he was handed a team sheet with Gray as 5 and Kellock as 4 but when they took to the field Gray was in the 4 shirt and Kellock the 5, then I can understand his error. I fail to understand why the constant use of the phrase flying Fijians was so irksome to some people.

    I agree that coverage of Scottish rugby on the BBC is poor. However, if we want that to change then we need to complain / encourage the BBC Scotland, let them know there is a demand to cover such events. Perhaps BBC and STV should pull budgets and resources for sporting events?

    Anyway, well done to the team. Considering a few of them had been ill all weak with a stomach bug I’m just glad we won.

  8. Let’s remember that Fiji is a developing country, so I think we can excuse the host broadcaster some aspects of the poor coverage on that basis given they are unlikely to have the best tv technology at their disposal.I I think it’s more valid however to criticise ESPN’s repackaging of the game – or rather their lack of repackaging! I really think they could’ve at least spent a bit of their production budget by getting someone to provide a uk commentary and maybe even having some pundits to sum up at half/full time. As it was, even allowing for the host broadcaster’s shortcomings, imo the coverage was totally substandard. I know some found it endearing, but I personally found it unsatisfactory given I’d just coughed up £9 specifically to watch it! I know nobody else was volunteering to cover it, but ESPN probably paid pennies for the rights so they could’ve spent some money on the rest of the show!

    As others have said, the BBC have as usual let Scottish rugby down. Nevermind their failure to show the game (it’s not like they’d have had to pay out a fortune or disrupt primetime schedules!), but they failed to even acknowledge it for several hours on their website or news programmes. Did it even get a mention on the Scotyish News?

    As for Samoa, the lack of any news on it suggests there’ll be no coverage, amateurish or otherwise.

  9. To be fair to the Fijians lets not forget some of the clangers during the Italy commentary in the 6 Nations (Scott Hogg?)… And the announcement over the PA at the Millenium Stadium that Rory Lawson was coming on for Ross Ford at hooker.

  10. far to many people complain about the “SHOCKING” tv coverage, scotland won,and scored 4 good try’s why is no one talking about that ? plus at least we got to see it at all over here.

  11. ESPN didn’t have to broadcast the game, just be grateful that they did. Yes they ballsed it up but Fiji is a long way away and hardly do a lot of broadcasting around the world. The commentator did a far better job than the BBC Alba guy would have done – can you imagine him with the Fijian names?! And the Fijian was for more pleasant than both Jonathan Davies and Scott “for any youngsters out there” Hastings.

    I do agree, however, that the BBC not updating their website until after 10am is appalling.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion