Rugby round-up: Scots lose first game to Samoa

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The Independent Online

Greig Laidlaw refused to blame the absence of key players with the British and Irish Lions for Scotland's 27-17 defeat by Samoa in Durban yesterday – their first-ever loss to the Pacific Islanders.

Richie Gray, Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland are three of the Scottish regulars touring Australia, which left the team sunk at ABSA Stadium noticeably short of experience.

Converted tries for James So'oialo and Taiasina Tuilagi saw Scotland trailing 14-9 at the break, with Laidlaw kicking all of his side's points. However, another converted try from Tuilagi and two So'oialo penalties gave Samoa a decisive lead and rendered Sean Lamont's response and a further penalty from Laidlaw irrelevant.

"We're not going to use the Lions tour as an excuse," said Laidlaw. "We didn't have a good Six Nations and we are just disappointed to take another backward step coming here. We need to have a good hard look at ourselves and work out our defensive systems. Conceding those tries in the first half – we were always struggling."

Harry Robinson's second-half try and Dan Biggar's accurate boot gave an inexperienced Wales side a narrow 22-18 win against Japan in the First Test of the two-match series in Osaka.

Robin McBryde, the Wales caretaker coach, said: "There is plenty for us to work on. In the first half we didn't deal with the conditions particularly well, didn't play as a team and weren't able to hold on to possession to create any pressure. It wasn't pleasing from that side of things. But I'm immensely proud of the way they dug deep to win."

France's coach, Philippe Saint-André, was frustrated at a missed opportunity for a rare victory over New Zealand after his side were beaten 23-13 at Eden Park. Two tries late in the first half, from Aaron Smith and Sam Cane, proved the difference in an error-strewn encounter.

"We had the opportunity to win the game or to draw," said Saint-André. "It is a shame because, as a side, we don't have many opportunities to beat New Zealand in New Zealand."