Scots set RWC pace
15 November, 2018, 11:12 am
SCOTLAND coach Gregor Townsend and his men have not only slaughtered our Fiji Airways Flying Fijians at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, he has also given out a rugby lesson in brutal execution of rugby plans if we are to be successful in the coming Rugby World Cup of 2019 in Japan.
It’s a blessing in disguise as the Scots have set the benchmark for us if we hope to match Wales and Australia and the rest of the tier one nations in a couple of months time.
Coming off a loss to Wales a week before, Scotland fans were looking forward to a good win over Fiji in front of a sixty-five thousand plus sell-out crowd.
Their cry for blood was rewarded when the Bravehearts responded without missing a beat to the finely tuned flute of the pied piper Townsend and his captain.
The bookmakers and rugby experts had predicted a Scotland win by sixty points even though Fiji had beaten Scotland 27-22 last year in Suva.
For one Fiji who only had three days together as a team before the Test and the Scots have been playing together for the whole season but Townsend was not getting carried away by all that advantage and stuck to his game plan knowing how unpredictable Fiji was.
Firstly, before the game kicked off Townsend had won the psychological battle after he continually praised the potential of our players and what damage they could do if given the opportunity.
We sometimes know we are being praised to soften our competitive edge but we like it all the same. Our players ran onto the paddock, not as underdogs but feeling just a bit more confident and walking on air as they began to silence the crowd with those two spectacular tries by Viliame Mata and Semi Radradra.
In the first half Scotland, led by their general Greig Laidlaw at halfback, played ten-man rugby and resorted to the old dreary Scotland style and belted the ball to the sidelines at every opportunity. From the line-outs they launched their driving and rolling mauls and these inflicted damage to the rest of the game as the two Fijian locks were sin-binned.
Nakarawa’s case was unfortunate as the Scots had tripped on their own player trying to get off the ground while Nakarawa was on the verge of stealing possession.
With 13 men on the ground for Fiji the Scots came into the second half with a different game plan as they opened up the game using the width of the ground and sending the balls to the flanks.
Scotland beat Australia last year with an expansive style of rugby revolutionising the old Scotland game to a much more exciting attacking style. Players stood far apart and made the ball do the work for them.
The Fijian defence that were making short runs before tackling and rucking were now running further out wide. When the full fifteen players were back in the ground Scotland began using variations to continually cut back in aiming at attacking around the scrums, rucks and mauls.
This created more confusions and led to easy tries as our defence was torn into shreds. More tries were scored when fatigue set in as a result of all those zig zag running without the ball.
One thing was consistent though McKee’s coaching analysts on the sideline were again too late to make the changes and sometimes replace the wrong players in the end.
For his size Alivereti Veitokani is a tough tackler and would have added some punch to those defences around the rucks after halftime and his deceptive footwork and sleight of hands would have brought some confusion on the opposition if he played at first-five.
We won our line-outs but they were almost all turned over through basic handling mistakes.
Townsend’s game plan was based on deception and ruthless execution while Fiji’s was predictable.
Our hopes of creating some unpredictably was also stopped when Scottish players used delaying tactics preventing Fiji from quick taps during penalties.
They must have watched the Drua matches.
Nakarawa’s off-load game was well contained and anticipated and they read Fiji like a book right to the tiniest detail.
Everybody knows our threequarters are the most dangerous and the faster the ball get there the better, but our two tries were scored from the back of line-out in a rare Scottish mistake and straight down the middle.
To prevent overloading training in the short time the team assemble a fitness standard could be given to overseas players to work towards so they are physically prepared to play at international level.
We commend their effort in trying to improve before the game against Scotland but the result was overloading, as we always emphasises
here, is continual dropped and fumbled passes and poor coordination, weak tackles and so on.
Against Uruguay and France McKee and his men will be the more wiser, thanks to Townsend painful reminder.
The comforting thought though was that he had to be brutal because if the result was reversed it would have been the most humiliating loss on Murrayfield in the face of millions of fans.
Two spectacular tries within five minutes Fiji did rattle the Scots into a deathly silence and this may have just been the beginning of more bigger things to come in 2019.