Double Dutch carries Scots through
Dutch rookie Tim Visser made the perfect start to his Test career, as he scored two tries in Scotland's 37-25 win over Fiji.
Dutch rookie Tim Visser made the perfect start to his Test career, as he scored two tries in Scotland's 37-25 win over Fiji in a one-off Test in Lautoka on Saturday.
It was close to 30 degrees Celsius at Churchill Park and Visser turned up the heat even more with his blistering performance.
Visser made his debut only five days after completing a three-year period of residency to qualify for Scotland selection. The Edinburgh wing has been the leading try-scorer in Scottish club rugby for the past three seasons.
Flyhalf Greig Laidlaw contributed 22 points as the Scots overcame hot and humid conditions and a display of typical backline brilliance from Fiji - to post their second win on their Southern Hemisphere tour, having upset Australia 9-6 in a mid-week international 11 days earlier.
Visser's second try in the 77th minute clinched Scotland's win after Fiji had come from 11-27 down in the 45th minute to trail by only two points, 25-27, with 15 minutes remaining.
Laidlaw scored a try and kicked four conversions and three penalties to keep Scotland in front, ensuring it avoided a repeat of its 26-51 loss to Fiji in Suva in 1998.
In six meetings between the teams, Scotland has won on five occasions and Fiji only once.
Scotland was able to control the match through strong set-piece play and an accurate kicking game guided by Laidlaw. Fiji showed vulnerability under the high ball and was pressured at scrums, conceding a penalty try from a scrum collapse in the 23rd minute.
The penalty try and tries to Visser and Laidlaw allowed Scotland to take a 24-11 lead to half-time and it expanded that to 27-11 with a Laidlaw penalty in the 45th minute.
Fiji rushed back into the match through the middle of the second half with tries to Waisea Nayacalevu in the 48th minute and Metuisela Talebula in the 65th. Flyhalf Jonetani Raululu converted Talebua's try on debut to cut the lead to 27-25 as the hosts looked like overwhelming the Scots.
Laidlaw eked out the lead to 30-25 by kicking his fourth penalty, then the fast and powerful Visser touched down for the second time to ensure Scotland escaped with a win.
Fiji had taken an early 6-0 led with penalties to Raululu but Scotland hit back with three first half tries to take charge of the match. It remained wary at all times of Fiji's counterattacking ability which was best displayed in Talebua's try.
"We're pleased to win," Scotland captain Ross Ford said.
"We knew how tough Fiji would be. They're very dangerous on counterattack and they showed us that today.
"They scored some very good tries, they're very dangerous and we had to be on our toes the whole game."
The respective captains, Ford for Scotland and Netani Talei for Fiji, were teammates until last season at the Edinburgh club.
"I take my hat off to the boys, we played really well," Talei said. "We tried to improve on our last few games and I think we did.
"We still lacked a little bit in terms of playing for 80 minutes. We slacked off a little bit but I'm still very happy with the way the boys played, amazing."
Scotland next plays Samoa in Apia, while Fiji faces Tonga next Saturday in the final match of the Pacific Nations Cup.
Tries: Domolailai, Nayacalevu, Talebula
Cons: Ralulu 2
Pens: Ralulu 2
Tries: Laidlaw, Visser 2, Penalty try
Cons: Laidlaw 4
Pens: Laidlaw 3
Fiji: 15 Isimeli Koniferedi, 14 Waisea Nayacalevu, 13 Wereniki Goneva, 12 Aloisio Buto, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Jonetai Ralulu, 9 Nikola Matawalu, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Iliese Ratuva, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Apisai Naikatini, 3 Setefano Somoca, 2 Viliame Veikoso, 1 Jeremaia Yanuyanutawa.
Replacements: 16 Tuatpati Talemaitoga, 17 Waisea Daveta, 18 Josefa Domolailai, 19 Kelepi Ketedromo, 20 Nemia Kenatale, 21 Kameli Ratuvou, 22 Metuisela Talebula.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Max Evans, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 John Barclay, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Alastair Kellock, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Geoff Cross, 18 Tom Ryder, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Duncan Weir, 22 Sean Lamont.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith, Andrew Lees (both Australia)