Gregor Townsend rues sloppy Scotland performance in defeat

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was left disappointed by his side's defeat to Fiji. Picture: Fotosport/David Gibson
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was left disappointed by his side's defeat to Fiji. Picture: Fotosport/David Gibson
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Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was bitterly disappointed after seeing his dream of an unbeaten tour to launch his term in charge blown apart by the vibrant running and tackling of Fiji.

The Scots won the try count by three to two but their discipline was poor and they were ripped apart by the brilliant handling of Leone Nakarawa as five penalties from Ben Volavola secured a 27-22 win for the hosts.

Hopes were high of another Scotland win after Townsend’s men followed up their defeat of Italy with a stunning victory over Australia but they were unable to make it a clean sweep.

“We did not play as well as we have done on tour but credit to Fiji, they played some outstanding rugby, particularly in the second half and were tough to handle,” said Townsend.

“For us to win Test matches we have to play really well, as we showed last week [against Australia], but we missed too many tackles and Fiji came alive when they broke those tackles.

“Also we have to look after the ball in our attack; too many balls were lost in contact with the wet ball. I’m really disappointed.”

A number of the leading Fijians showed just why they are among the most sought-after players in Europe.

But there was a degree of irony in the fact that the torturer in chief was Leone Nakarawa, who Townsend had plucked from the Fijian sevens line-up while he was at Glasgow and turned him into one of the world’s great locks.

“There were a number of Fijians who played really well and Leone was an outstanding example of that,” Townsend said.

“He is probably the best second row in the world, certainly the best offloading second row.

“At times we defended him really well and managed to close him down but at other times he kept his energy and offloading ability and he created a fantastic try.”

For his captain John Barclay, it was an equally disheartening experience.

“It was physical but we could not exert control,” he said.

“Last week, when we got back into it we had a calm nature about us. This week we did not hold onto the ball very well, we didn’t make the right decisions with the ball and when we did we didn’t move well with it.

“Defensively we made poor decisions and fell off too many tackles.”

By contrast Fiji coach John McKee celebrated one of the best results in recent years.

“We have made a lot of progress as a team in the time we have been together but we have two big games ahead of us [World Cup qualifying matches] against Tonga and Samoa,” he said.

“We will enjoy the victory but then start focusing on those.

“The team is advancing. When I was first interviewed for the job I said I wanted Fiji to be a competitor with Tier One nations because I believe we have the talented athletes here and have shown we can step up.

“We have very talented rugby players and for me the big thing is to see those guys who are top players in Europe coming back to play for Fiji.”