SAMOA 16 - 17 SCOTLAND: SCOTS TAKE A BEATING BUT EMERGE VICTORIOUS
The writing on an Apia wall reads: “Jesus Christ is King of Samoa” but for 78 minutes yesterday the islanders were ready to crown flyhalf Tusi Pisi who dragged them to within a hair’s breadth of beating Scotland for the first time in history.
The Hurricanes’ playmaker scored all of Samoa’s 16 points and he will play much worse on another day and emerge victorious.
Scotland will play much better and lose, as they did at the start of the Six Nations, but at least they have the satisfaction of returning from the Pacific tour with an excellent three-from-three record that will boost them up the IRB rankings when Dublin updates the list at the month end.
The Scots might claim that they were playing the old Muhammed Ali “rope-a-dope” trick because for ten rounds they were taking a beating only to bounce back at the death with a converted try courtesy of flanker Rob Harley who had a debut that will remain long in the memory.
Substitute scrumhalf Mike Blair set up the score with a cheeky, darting snipe that dragged two defenders onto him and a gap suddenly appeared for the flanker who only had to trip over his boot laces for the score. It was just one of several crucial contributions from Blair who had earlier managed to get his fingertips to deflect a scoring pass into touch.
Greig Laidlaw was never going to miss from five yards left of the posts and the Samoans were left to ponder what might have been. The islanders will watch the replay of this game over the next day or so still be tempted to bet on themselves after sixty minutes.
One plus points for Scotland was another domninant scrum, although it somehow managed to lose one put-in and Samoa scored directly as a result when Paul Williams was sent blind and the rock solid centre found Pisi inside him.
Matt Scott was the stand-out back for Scotland along with Blair who came on early in the second half and upped the urgency. Scott made a sublime solo break in the first half for the Scots first try. The ball went through Cusiter, Sean Lamont, Ross Rennie and Richie Gray before Joe Ansbro somehow wriggled his way over. The centre was only there as a late substitute for Nick De Luca who had pulled out with a pulled thigh muscle.
In truth an utterly ordinary game was dragged out of the mire by the extraordinary nature of Scotland’s comeback which, if it didn’t come after the fat lady had sung, she was certainly gargling furiously in the dressing room. Robinson was probably swearing just as furiously in the Scotland dressing room because his young side simply didn’t show up.