Rugby Union: Scots revel in a rampage

Scotland 85 Portugal 11
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The Independent Online
JAMIE MAYER, the coming thing in Scottish rugby, welcomed the prospect of another extended training workout against Spain this week after his hat-trick of tries helped floor Portugal at Murrayfield.

The powerhouse centre epitomised the farcical mismatch that doubled as a World Cup qualifier on Saturday as he scored his first points in a navy blue jersey in a crushing victory.

The Scottish Rugby Union's decision not to award caps for such an international may have drawn criticism in some quarters, but few could argue that the contest bore any relation to anything approaching a competitive bout.

The 5,961 spectators who turned up could at least claim to have witnessed Scotland's first victory at the national stadium in 20 months. And, following a succession of record defeats and embarrassing reverses during that period, Mayer admitted that such an easily-obtained victory had induced something of a cathartic effect.

"It is nice to be able to do that to a side for a change rather than other teams doing it to us," he said. "We got a bit of space to try things out against lesser opposition and it was almost like a training session in a live game situation. We probably should have got 100 points against them but we started to over-elaborate. But we did play well for the first hour and hopefully we can take that on this week and then into the Five Nations."

The unreal nature of the match was alluded to by their coach Jim Telfer afterwards, who claimed the Scotland forwards had simply become tired in the last quarter from constantly recycling so much ball.

Winger Kenny Logan, who claimed two tries himself on a successful return to the side, also acknowledged the different challenge presented against such opposition.

"The forwards were winning so much ball and just kept picking up and going through them, it was actually more difficult to get it out wide quickly," he explained.

For Portugal, the real challenge lies in beating Spain on Wednesday, which will see them qualify for the World Cup. "Rugby is not very popular in Portugal, especially with the football team trying to qualify for the European Championships," their coach, Joao-Paulo Bessa, said. "But if we win on Wednesday and go to the World Cup, maybe we can do something about that."

The departing SRU executive board chairman Duncan Paterson could teach the Portuguese a thing or two about unpopularity.

Paterson finally bowed to the wishes of the majority and announced that he will relinquish the reins at a general committee meeting on Friday. Whether that paves the way for a new structure in the way rugby is run north of the border remains to be seen, but coach Telfer believes the basis of a competitive team on the field is already in place. "If there are problems, it is not the players," he said. "Some of the players are as good as any I have coached."

Scotland: Tries Mayer 3, Leslie 2, Logan 2, Townsend 2, Bulloch, C Murray, Peters, Poutney. Conversions: Hodge 10. Portugal: Tries Hoffman. Penalties Mourao. Dropped goal Hoffman.

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 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 A Smaral, 48; A Silva for P Marques, 58.

Referee: G Morandim (Italy).