Scotland secure bonus-point win
Scotland kept their 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final hopes alive with a 45-17 Pool ‘B’ bonus-point victory over Tonga at the Stade de Nice on Sunday.
Placed in this year’s ‘group of death’ alongside Ireland and South Africa, and having already lost to the Springboks, Scotland could ill-afford a second slip-up, and pulled away in the second half to confirm victory.
Gregor Townsend’s side scored seven tries through hooker George Turner, wings Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn, back-row Rory Darge, scrum half George Horne, full back Blair Kinghorn and replacement-back Darcy Graham. Tonga scored tries through wing Solomone Kata and prop Ben Tameifuna but must now beat South Africa next weekend to stand any hope of progression. Scotland made a strong start and went ahead in the fifth minute when hooker
Turner pushed over following a rolling maul, with Finn Russell adding the extras.
Tonga responded well to reduce the arrears with a William Havili penalty and the Pacific Islanders then got themselves in front through Kata’s try, converted by Havili.
After trailing 10-7, the Scots regained control with scores in the closing 14 minutes of the first half from Van der Merwe, Steyn and Darge. The last of those tries came at a time when Tonga back Afusipa Taumoepeau was in the sinbin for a high challenge on Jamie Ritchie, waiting to learn if his yellow card would be upgraded to a red.
Scotland maintained their 14-point lead over Tonga up to midway through the second half, with the two teams exchanging tries after the break. Shortly after Taumoepeau was allowed to return to the field, with his yellow card not upgraded to a red for his first-half indiscretion, Tonga
reduced the deficit when Tameifuna bulldozed his way over on the left, with Havili on target with the conversion. But Scotland reasserted themselves when substitute Horne touched down in
the 53rd minute after brilliant play by Van der Merwe to set him up.
Russell converted, and a little over 10 minutes later, Scotland had a fifth try when Kinghorn got in on the act after another enterprising Russell assist. Scotland next face Ireland on October 7, in their crucial final Pool ‘B’ game, at the Stade de France while Tonga are next in action vs South Africa on October 1, for their third Pool ‘B’ game, at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.