Hastings tinkles the Ivorians

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The Independent Online
Scotland 89

Ivory Coast 0

At one point in this mismatch it looked as if Gavin Hastings was capable of beating the Ivory Coast on his own. After 39 minutes the Scotland captain had 29 points and he went on to score 44 in his country's biggest-ever victory in their opening match in Group D.

Hastings helped himself to four tries, nine conversions and two penalties against the hapless Africans. Before the start the Ivory Coast displayed their mascot, an inflatable elephant, and it quickly became apparent that their forwards had about as much mobility. Hastings easily surpassed the milestones established by England's Rob Andrew and France's Didier Camberabero, who both scored 30 points in facile victories but his total did not set a world record.

That distinction belongs to the former Loughborough University captain Ashley Billington who, playing for Hong Kong against Singapore in a World Cup qualifying match in Kuala Lumpur last October, scored 10 tries. Hong Kong, who failed to qualify for the World Cup finals, won 164-13.

Clearly, the Ivorians should think about establishing fixtures with the Singaporeans on a regular basis. The Ivory Coast is in a tough group and they have to return to Olympia Park here for games against France and Tonga. About the only thing that interrupted the Scottish siege was the familiar sight of the medical team trooping on and off the pitch to place Ivorians on stretchers. Athanese Dali, the stand-off and captain, was taken off on one after 30 minutes with a knee injury and the wing Celestin N'gbala also made a horizontal exit. Dali, who has a degree in journalism, told reporters: "Gavin Hastings is a great player. He didn't underestimate us. We spent the entire first half looking at him. We are here to learn. Perhaps next time we'll be a little better."

Hastings, who took his points total for Scotland to 607, had a fortunate bounce to score the first try after 12 minutes and when they led 27-0 the full-back had scored the lot. "It's always pleasing when you put so many points on the board," Hastings said, "but I'm not interested in individual points records. It's a team game. My kicking was pretty good but I'm not going to get complacent about that. I was particularly pleased that we didn't allow the Ivory Coast to score. That was important. We made some unforced errors but it's understandable when you have so much of the ball."

As Scotland proceeded to score 13 tries (another first), the strain of bagpipes could be heard on this picturesque ground. Conditions were perfect for Scotland to rehearse their set-piece moves but they will rarely play an international against weaker opposition. "We don't think it's humiliating," the Ivory Coast manager, Pierre Cassagnet, said. "Around 50 points would have been a bit better but we have good spirit."

SCOTLAND: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); C Joiner (Melrose), A Stanger (Hawick), G Shiel (Melrose), K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), B Redpath (Melrose); P Burnell (London Scottish), K McKenzie (Stirling County), P Wright (Boroughmuir), S Campbell (Dundee HSFP), D Weir (Melrose), P Walton (Northampton), R Wainwright (West Hartlepool), I Smith (Gloucester).

IVORY COAST: V Kouassi (Burotic); P Bouazo (Burotic), J Sathicq (CASG), L Niakou (Niort), C N'Gbala (Cahors); A Dali (Clamart, capt), F Dupont (Nimes); A Bley (ASPAA), E Angoran (Rodez), T Djehi (Millau), A Kone (Soustons), G Bado (Cognac), P Pere (ACBB Paris), D Sanoko (Biarritz), I Lassissi (Burotic). Replacements: A Camara (ASPAA) for Dali, 30; M Brito (Biscarosse) for N'Gbala, 40; A Okou (Poitiers) for Kone, 71.

Referee: F Vito (Western Samoa).



Most tries in a Rugby World Cup finals match by one team:

13 - Scotland v Ivory Coast, 1995

13 - France v Zimbabwe, 1987

12 - New Zealand v Italy, 1987

12 - New Zealand v Fiji, 1987

11 - Scotland v Zimbabwe, 1987


Most tries in a Rugby World Cup finals match by one player:

4 - Gavin Hastings, Scotland v Ivory Coast, 1995

4 - Ieuan Evans, Wales v Canada, 1987

4 - Craig Green, New Zealand v Fiji, 1987

4 - John Gallagher, New Zealand v Fiji, 1987