Scotland reignited their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals with an impressive 45-17 bonus-point triumph over Tonga in a hard-hitting Pool B clash at the Stade de Nice.
The Scottish forwards powered hooker George Turner over the try line within the opening five minutes, setting the tone for an excellent start. However, Tonga swiftly responded as winger Solomone Kata showcased his speed to snatch the lead.
Scotland’s wingers, Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn, swiftly added to the scoreboard with quick tries. The bonus point was secured just before halftime by flanker Rory Darge, capitalizing on Tonga’s momentary numerical disadvantage after wing Afusipa Taumoepeau received a yellow card.
Tonga’s captain, Ben Tameifuna, exhibited his strength by breaking through Scotland’s defense to narrow the gap, but Scotland maintained control. Replacement scrum-half George Horne, full-back Blair Kinghorn, and substitute wing Darcy Graham all crossed the try line, sealing Scotland’s first victory of the Rugby World Cup.
Duhan van der Merwe, named the Mastercard Player of the Match, commented on the physicality of the game after the match, saying, “The first half-hour was incredibly tough out there. I don’t think I’ve ever faced hits like that before. But with players like Finn [Russell] creating opportunities, it’s simply amazing.”
Scotland’s stand-in captain, Finn Russell, discussed the team’s aspirations beyond the group stages, stating, “To progress in this competition beyond the group stage, we need to improve. However, tonight we achieved what we needed, which was a bonus-point victory.”
Tonga’s captain, Ben Tameifuna, acknowledged that the result reflects the team’s current standing, saying, “We now have a glimpse of what it’s like to compete at the highest level. Our focus is to remain determined and keep moving forward.”
Coach Toutai Kefu expressed anticipation for Tonga’s upcoming challenge, saying, “Facing South Africa is a significant test. Opportunities to play against the Springboks are rare, so the team is eagerly looking forward to it. We will continue to give our best effort.”