Fiji's pace, power amd panache proved too much for Scotland

Losing to a Pacific Island team cost Andy Robinson his job; a similar defeat on Saturday but no risk of a repeat of the savage consequences for the man in charge.

Ross Ford won a record 110th cap for Scotland. Picture: David Gibson/Fotosport.
Ross Ford won a record 110th cap for Scotland. Picture: David Gibson/Fotosport.

For a start, the circumstances are different. Robinson had overseen Scotland’s worst Rugby World Cup and a Six Nations whitewash before losing to Tonga turned out to be the final straw. Gregor Townsend has only just taken charge of the side and had overseen a win over Australia before then losing to Fiji.

Still, it is a reminder that, in terms of every measure that should matter in this dog-eat-dog competitive world, Scotland should hold all the aces, but Fiji proved there is still a place for natural talent, aggression and panache.

Take the first home try, one that any team would have been proud to own. Power
and aggression as Peceli Yato, the flanker based at Clermont Auvergne, lined 
up Damien Hoyland, the Scotland wing, from about ten yards away and not 
only clattered him ten yards back but got up again to win the ball.

There was panache and elegance as Leone Nakarawa, the lock, sucked in half a dozen Scottish players before delivering a ridiculously good one-handed pass to Ben Volavola, the stand-off.

And well as he delivered an inch-perfect cross kick, Patrick Osborne, the wing, plucked it out of the air, and refused to go down in the tackle until Yato – who had started it all – arrived to take the scoring pass.

There was less wonder about the second Fiji try – mainly because it was all about Nakarawa’s individual brilliance with Henry Seniloli, the replacement scrum-half, finishing it off – but it was still pretty sensational.

Scotland have scored some equally brilliant tries on this tour – Tim Visser and Ross Ford against Italy, Hamish Watson against Australia lead the list – but not in this game.

They only kept in the match through their driving maul, which delivered tries for both hookers used – Ross Ford on his record-breaking 110th cap and Fraser Brown – while Ruaridh Jackson was first to the ball when it went loose from a ruck to collect the third.

The big problem was that, faced with the power of the Fijian runners, Scotland could not bring them down with enough certainty. Faced with a drizzle and the ferocity
of the Fijian tackling, their handling let them down.

“The conditions played a part,” said Tim Swinson, the lock. “It was wet and contact was hard. That’s something we have to work on.

“Then we came back well. In the second half we really seemed to get back into the game but it didn’t work out.”

Add 15 points from the boot of Volavola, while Scotland were frittering away scoring chances by kicking for the corner, and you have the difference between the sides.

Next up, Samoa at the start of the November Tests. This result will have encouraged them too. They’ve seen the blueprint on how to beat Scotland.