Scotland coach knows All Blacks will have highlighted flaws
It was a long way from being perfect but it was an undeniably entertaining first home international in charge of Scotland for coach Gregor Townsend as the sell-out crowd witnessed a '¨dizzying try feast.
A Murrayfield Test record of 82 points – one for every Scotland cap Townsend won as a player – included more than 20 per cent of the 46 players involved in this opening autumn Test notching a try, with Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally bagging a maul-drive double among the 11 touchdowns.
It was a match Scotland never looked like losing from the moment Stuart Hogg seized on the awkward bounce from a Tommy Seymour hack ahead down the right to claim his 17th Test try in 90 seconds, although when Ofisa Treviranus barrelled over to get them within a converted try near the end, there was a flutter of anxiety.
After Hogg’s opener, there was another for the ever impressive Huw Jones before McInally drove other either side of half-time. Alex Dunbar and Peter Horne crossed in each corner, while Finn Russell kicked three conversions and two penalties. Horne converted his own try.
There was much talk in the build-up of the helter-skelter 2015 World Cup pool match between the two teams that Scotland edged 36-33. As the basketball-style sequence of scoring unfolded in the second half it stirred memories of St James’s Park but on that occasion there was continual change of lead while, on this occasion, the Scots were always in front and trying to keep the Samoan response at arm’s length.
“I think this game was different,” said Townsend. “The end of it was quite similar but the Newcastle game went score-score-score all the time.
“We built up what we felt was a substantial lead and, okay, we then allowed Samoa back into the game when we were planning to kick on with that lead. At the end, obviously, when you’re only winning by six points you do enough to stay out in front and the players did that.”
Townsend didn’t shy away from the worrying aspects of his team’s display ahead of Saturday’s visit of New Zealand, but was keen to stress the positives and bask in what was another Test win – a sixth of the calendar year with two more to play.
“We started well, then we sat off Samoa. We didn’t attack with the intent we know we’re capable of. Then we really went at them before half-time and we were really pleased as a coaching group the way we played before half-time.
“We started the second half well but yeah, we didn’t kick on. We thought we would kick on after that because we were looking good and scoring tries with that ball. Part of that was our errors. After we score a try and then we’re in your 22, it’s difficult to defend. You give away a penalty and then you’re defending a lineout drive, that’s another challenge for our defence.
“It could have been a different score but I thought Samoa deserved what they put into the game. When they had ball they looked powerful, scored their tries and played positive rugby.”
Edinburgh loosehead Darryl Marfo made his debut and looked the part and Townsend praised the prop’s performance.
“I thought Darryl played well,” he said. “He got a ball out of the tackle on his first involvement, the scrum went well and we looked always to be going forward and maybe didn’t get the rewards we thought we should. I thought Darryl got off the line well in defence and he should be very proud of his performance.”