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Scotland beat Tonga 45:17 at the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup 2023 | Match Centre | Scotland 45:17 Tonga

In a scintillating display of rugby prowess, Scotland triumphed over a determined Tonga team with a bonus-point victory, reigniting their hopes of progressing from Pool B in the Rugby World Cup. The sun-soaked stadium in Nice bore witness to a match brimming with action, as George Turner, Duhan van der Merwe, Kyle Steyn, and Rory Darge orchestrated four tries before halftime.

Tonga, displaying commendable commitment, momentarily seized the lead when Solomone Kata responded to Turner’s early try. However, their aspirations were quashed by missed tackles and indiscipline, with Afusipa Taumoepeau and Vaea Fifita both receiving yellow cards. To compound their woes, Fifita’s card was later upgraded to red after the final whistle.

The second half witnessed a gritty exchange of scores, with Ben Tameifuna and George Horne contributing points for their respective teams. It wasn’t until the closing stages of the match that Blair Kinghorn and Darcy Graham added a touch of finesse to the proceedings.

So, where does this victory leave Scotland in the grand scheme of the tournament? Having fallen to South Africa in their opening match, Gregor Townsend’s men must secure another bonus-point victory against Romania, a task that appears to be a mere formality. Their real challenge, however, lies in defeating Ireland while preventing the world’s top-ranked side from gaining a bonus point—an endeavor akin to Herculean feats.

While Scotland can draw encouragement from their ability to penetrate Tonga’s formidable defense, they acknowledge that a higher level of performance is necessary to overcome the in-form Irish squad.

The opening try saw Turner grounding the ball off a well-executed driving maul, but Tonga responded with Kata’s brilliant try in the corner following a sublime Salesi Piutau offload. Sione Tuipulotu played a pivotal role in Scotland’s second score, setting up Finn Russell, who in turn assisted Blair Kinghorn, enabling Duhan van der Merwe to celebrate his 21st international try.

Russell’s nimble pass found Steyn, who exploited a gap to add to his tally of four tries, reminiscent of his performance when Tonga last visited Murrayfield in October 2021.

Taumoepeau was penalized with a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Scotland’s captain, Jamie Ritchie. Meanwhile, Darge showcased his agility as he maneuvered through a tangle of defenders, scoring just before halftime. Unfortunately for Ritchie, he did not return to the pitch after failing his head injury assessment, much to the surprise of many pundits.

Tameifuna’s powerful run brought Tonga within seven points, but Van der Merwe’s brilliant efforts rejuvenated Scotland, as he shrugged off four defenders to set up replacement scrum-half Horne for another try.

Kinghorn, who had an early mishap under the posts, redeemed himself by extending Scotland’s lead, courtesy of Russell’s well-timed pass. The dynamic duo combined once more, with Kinghorn narrowly missing a try due to a stunning tackle by Pita Ahki.

In the game’s final moments, an exhausted Tonga was reduced to 14 players for the second time as Fifita was red-carded for a reckless no-arms challenge. Graham capitalized on the opportunity, running from a considerable distance to secure the final try.

Scotland’s head coach, Gregor Townsend, expressed contentment with the win but emphasized the need for improvement, particularly in the final quarter. He praised the team’s effort, game plan, and intent but noted the lapse in discipline when in the lead.

Fly-half Finn Russell echoed the sentiment, deeming it a “decent enough performance” while acknowledging the necessity of elevating their game to advance in the competition.

In a thrilling showdown, Scotland emerged victorious, but the path ahead promises greater challenges that demand an even higher level of skill and precision.

Match Summary

Pool B | Scotland 45:17 Tonga

Scotland Scores:

TRIES George Turner (5′), Duhan van der Merwe (26′), Kyle Steyn (30′), Rory Darge (42′), George Horne (54′), Blair Kinghorn (68′), Darcy Graham (82′)
CONV Finn Russell (6′, 43′, 55′, 70′, 83′)

Tonga Scores:

TRIES Solomone Kata (20′), Ben Tameifuna (44′)
CONV William Havili (21′, 45′)
PENS William Havili (10′)

Stade de Nice, Nice


Karl Dickson

Man of the match:

Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)


For everything about the Rugby World Cup 2023 check out our guide here.

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