Scotland blows away Fiji by record 54-17 at Murrayfield
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Scotland used a clinical second half to blow away Fiji by a record 54-17 at a sold-out Murrayfield on Saturday.
Scotland reinforced with its exiles after losing to Wales a week ago, and the likes of backs Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell, Sean Maitland, and Stuart Hogg starred thanks to a dominating pack featuring Fraser Brown, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, and new cap Sam Skinner.
By practically living in the Fiji half and enjoying 70 percent of the ball, they posted a record score and margin against Fiji.
But Murrayfield was silenced for a while when Fiji, which won their last matchup 17 months ago, led 17-14 after half an hour.
Then yellow cards to Fiji locks Tevita Cavubati and Leone Nakarawa for persistent fouls under sustained pressure from the Scots, led to 13 men conceding the go-ahead try in injury time to winger Tommy Seymour — the first of his hat trick — and 14 men giving up Maitland’s try to start the second half.
Between Laidlaw and Russell, all but one of their eight tries was converted.
Scotland didn’t take a penalty kick, instead going for the corner lineout as often as possible. It worked the first time in the 11th minute, with Maitland and Skinner going close then prop Allan Dell scoring.
Soon after, center Pete Horne spoiled his break by trying to score solo, but Scotland recycled again hooker Fraser Brown scored.
Up 14-3, Scotland was rolling.
But Fiji struck back through tries by No. 8 Viliame Mata, scoring on his home club ground from a crooked Scotland throw-in, and center Semi Radradra from a break by Cavubati.
Fiji was ahead and Murrayfield went eerily quiet.
The Scots went back to work and pinned Fiji back on its tryline. They forced three lineouts, and Cavubati was sin-binned. Brown had a try disallowed because of an illegal block. Another try was disallowed but Fiji was warned about the penalty count. Nakarawa paid the price.
Scotland needed three scrums and two extra men to finally break Fiji, with Seymour almost walking in on the right wing.
They led 19-17 at halftime, and 26-17 two minutes into the new half after quick ruck ball to Maitland.
Fiji conceded nine penalties in the first half, but only three in the second as Scotland, with seemingly all of the ball, started taking more risks from its own half and stretched the Fijians down both sides.
The tries began to flow.
Seymour completed his hat trick with the next two tries, the first from a scrum move, the second started from long range by Hogg with a decisive last pass from replacement Chris Harris.
In the last three minutes, Ritchie scored against the post, and replacement flyhalf Adam Hastings finished off a neat back-and-forth with Russell.