Tries: Mayer 3, Leslie 2, Try: Hoffman
Logan 2,Townsend 2, Con: Mourao
Bulloch, C Murray, Drop goal: Hoffman
Cons: Hodge 10
Half-time: 52-0 Attendance: 5,961
MURRAYFIELD was not quite a morgue yesterday because the few thousand who turned up for the World Cup qualifier against Portugal appreciated the rare sight of an avalanche of Scottish tries.
It was a day when Scotland were able to throw political strife to the wind and test a few moves considered too risky in the previous two matches against the Maoris and South Africans. Yet there was ultimate disappointment that, having led 73-0 after 57 minutes, they fell four points short of their record score, 89-0 against the Ivory Coast in qualifying for the last World Cup.
The biggest cheer was reserved for the visiting centre Rohan Hoffman, who seized on a mistake under his own posts, chipped ahead, regathered and galloped gloriously away to score in injury time. Portugal might have been holding something in reserve for Wednesday's skirmish with Spain as, on this evidence, they would barely have been a match for Jedforest seconds.
There were occasional thrashes of handling skills, but the power of Scotland was simply too much for Portugal and two visits to the home 22 was all they managed in the first half. They at least earned the appreciation of the crowd when they ran a 23rd-minute penalty from close to the posts. The move went nowhere, however, and when the ball emerged the fly-half Nuno Mourao opted for a drop goal, which he dragged wide.
Scotland needed less than two minutes to take the lead, John Leslie forcing his way over in the left corner after the Portuguese had done well to keep out Eric Peters. After 10 minutes Martin Leslie broke away up the right touch line and when the ball was moved left his brother dummied over beneath the posts. The other centre Jamie Mayer also slipped over for two tries, as did Gregor Townsend. But the jury remains out on Townsend's future as a full-back as his defensive capabilities were never tested.
With Peters and Kenny Logan also touching down and Duncan Hodge adding six conversions, it was 52-0 at half-time and it took a lively assault by Portugal to get Scotland going again, Mayer completing his hat-trick eight minutes after the interval. There was a suspicion of a forward pass when Logan sent his fellow winger Cameron Murray over to complete a flowing move but such trifles seemed irrelevant and Gordon Bulloch, the irrepressible hooker, touched down to make it 73-0 before Mourao took the opportunity to kick a penalty.
Logan claimed a second try but a rash of substitutions, coupled with a great deal of carelessness interrupted their flow. The Northampton flanker Budge Pountney scored Scotland's only try of the last 15 minutes but this was not a day for passing judgement on such a mismatch.
Scotland: G Townsend (Brive); K Logan (Wasps), J Mayer (Edinburgh Reivers), J Leslie (Glasgow Caledonians), C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers); D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers), B Redpath (Edinburgh Reivers, capt); T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), D Hilton (Bath), S Murray (Bedford), D Weir (Newcastle Falcons), M Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers), B Pountney (Northampton), E Peters (Bath).
Replacements: G Armstrong (Newcastle Falcons) for Redpath, 55; A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers) for J Leslie, 60; S Brotherstone (Edinburgh Reivers) for Bulloch, 63; S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians) for Weir, 67; P Burnell (London Scottish) for Hilton, 73; S Longstaff (Glasgow Caledonians) for C Murray, 73; R Wainwright (R Wainwright) for Peters, 80.
Portugal: J Gomes; F Saldanha, R Hoffman, S Amaral, L Lamas; N Mourao, F Rocha; P Marques, P Silva, J Ferreira (capt), M Melo, M Sommer-Ribeiro, M Barbosa, M Portela, P Castro.
Replacements: R Gomes for J Gomes, 61; J Mota for Amaral, 48; A Silva for P Marques, 58.
Referee: G Morandim (Italy).