Nick De Luca proves worthy to be centre of attention
Andy Robinson was all smiles after witnessing his side win their second game on the trot.
After all, he argued, the last time Scotland played in Fiji way back in 1998 they were on the wrong end of an eight-try shellacking so he’d take a 37-25 win and keep working.
This Scotland team are nothing like the finished article – even their rough edges have rough edges – but they came through when it mattered.
An optimist would look at the final score and argue it was a job done. A journalist might point out that the Scots did their level best to throw away a huge lead with some hopelessly loose playground play and the Scotland coach pretty much agreed with both arguments.
“I was pleased with the courage shown and the aptitude shown towards the end of this game to go and close the game down,” said Robinson. “We shouldn’t have got ourselves into that position but credit to Fiji and the way they played. There was some outstanding offloading and lines that they ran to put us under that pressure. Our accuracy was disappointing in that second half and that is something we have to address.”
With four tries, the new-look attacking line must be viewed as a success but in reality several players were below their best and when Stuart Hogg and Matt Scott, two youngsters with skill to spare, hit their straps then Scotland’s offence will be something to behold. As it was, the team was reliant on the Edinburgh double act of Nick De Luca and Tim Visser who combined twice for the Dutchman’s two scores.
He has been involved in some big Heineken games this season but there were times when Visser looked a little shell-shocked at the intensity in his first international match, although a whack to the head may have accounted for at least some of the bewilderment. Let’s not carp, though, he is the Ronseal of rugby. Visser did exactly what it says on the tin and Scottish rugby is grateful. The game has been waiting for three long years for this day and the Dutchman didn’t disappoint, with two smartly taken scores in addition to any number of penetrating runs. It could be the start of a long and meaningful relationship.
“As soon as the first whistle went I thought ‘I actually have a cap now’, which is brilliant, and being able to score that first try and finish off that second means it was a really special day for me,” said the delighted Dutchman. “It was really hard work in these conditions. I can’t really remember my second try, I got a knock in the head. All I remember is Nick [De Luca] planted the ball in my hands and me thinking I was never going to get there and then waking up behind the posts. All credit to Nick. He’s been brilliant in the last three years [for Edinburgh] and he’s shown again what sort of partnership we share.
“I give a lot of the credit [for my success] to Nick and maybe a few drinks as well! It was trademark Edinburgh play and we’ve shown we can do it at international level as well so that was brilliant.”
So, too, was De Luca at times, because the centre may just have enjoyed his best outing in a Scotland shirt. Frankly, much of what he did was Fijian in nature. De Luca was still standing after copping some huge hits, his footwork was like Fred Astaire and his thumping tackle near the line when Scotland were under the cosh visibly lifted the entire team.
During the Six Nations the poor man was forced to suspend his Twitter account after being on the wrong end of the fans’ wrath having collected two daft yellow cards against Wales and Italy. You have to hope he’s reinstated it because he’ll get nothing but plaudits after this performance even if much of the attention will inevitably be stolen by the scoring machine who plays outside him for both club and country.
What did Robinson make of Visser’s international debut?
“He did all right,” was the coach’s succinct response but the accompanying smile said it all.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west