In the town where Lance Armstrong secured his last stage win as a Tour de France pedal-pusher, Scotland missed their chance to claim the maillot jaune in Pool C. The yellow jersey position in the group remains with the men in black, Frank Hadden's side having failed to do to the Portuguese collection of lawyers, vets and doctors in Saint-Etienne yesterday what Graham Henry's New Zealand machine did to Italy down in Marseilles on Saturday.
Eight tries and 56 points against the 1,000-1 joint-outsiders did not quite add up to the treatment (11 tries and 76 points) meted out to an Italian team who won at Murrayfield back in February. Still, at least there was no major spoke wedged into the Caledonian wheels, although there was one potential casualty, Allan Jacobsen having been taken to the local infirmary for a scan on a damaged calf.
With four tries and a 28-7 lead by the half-hour, the Scots afforded themselves the luxury of freewheeling through the next 27 minutes before finishing with enough of a flourish to log their first day on the road as something of a job well done.
For Portugal, too, there was a measure of joy on what was an historic day for them: a try, a conversion and a penalty with which to mark their World Cup baptism. Despite their own fears, Os Lobos, the wolves, were not entirely lambs to the slaughter.
The Scottish game plan was to put the contest to bed with a high-tempo opening quarter and by the 24th minute they were three converted tries and 21 points to the good. Portugal were on the back foot from the off but managed to hold out until the 12th minute – before a charging break by the Stade Français-bound Simon Taylor launched a move that finished with Jason White slipping a pass to Rory Lamont, who dabbed the ball over the whitewash with three defenders hanging on to his shirt-tails.
Two minutes later the younger Lamont brother had his second score, the wing-turned-full-back swatting off two assailants on the right. There was an element of unopposed rugby about the third try, too, as Dan Parks hoisted a cross-field kick into the left corner, where the unmarked Scott Lawson collected the second score of his international career.
The pipers skirled in celebration but Le Chaudron – the Saint-Etienne cauldron – erupted in the 28th minute when Portugal put their first points on the board. Duarte Pinto – their follically-challenged No 10 (a web-designer by trade) – shipped the ball out from a five-metre scrum to Pedro Carvalho, a left-wing-cum-student, who broke through a tackle by Taylor to claim a momentous score for his country.
Duarte Pinto added the extras and also landed a 30m penalty before the interval, by which time Scotland had their fourth try, Rob Dewey having broke through a succession of tackles to touch down under the posts. The damage would have been greater than 28-10 but right on the half-time whistle Scott Murray, extending his Scottish cap record to 86, dropped the ball in the act of scoring – or not scoring, as consultation of the video evidence showed.
Still, the Portuguese did well to survive that scare and also to ride out the 10 minutes they spent either side of the break without one of their three Uvas – Joao, their open-side flanker and the cousin of brothers Vasco (at No 8) and the lock Goncalo, being despatched to the sin-bin for deliberately killing the ball at a close-range ruck.
It took until the 57th minute, in fact, for Scotland to score again, Parks going over on the left and adding the conversion, his fifth out of five, before making way for Chris Paterson.
There were three further Scottish tries, all courtesy of replacements – Hugo Southwell, Kelly Brown and Ross Ford. Paterson converted them, leaving the Scots with a cushion of 46 points at the final whistle. It was the brave wolves of Portugal, however, who departed to the lion's share of the Saint-Etienne cheers.
Os Lobos, the wolves, were not quite the lambs thatmany feared. It might be different on stage two of their Tour de France next Saturday. Their opponents in Lyons will be the men in all black.
Scotland: R Lamont (Sale); S Lamont (Northampton), M Di Rollo (Edinburgh), R Dewey (Ulster), S Webster (Edinburgh);
D Parks (Glasgow), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), S Lawson (Sale), E Murray (Northampton), N Hines (Perpignan), S Murray (Montauban), J White (capt, Sale), A Hogg (Edinburgh), S Taylor (Stade Français). Replacements: G Kerr (Edinburgh) for Jacobsen, 36; H Southwell (Edinburgh) for Di Rollo, 52; C Paterson (Gloucester) for Parks, 58; S MacLeod (Llanelli) for S Murray, 62; K Brown (Glasgow) for White, 62; R Lawson (Gloucester) for Blair , 67; R Ford (Glasgow) for S Lawson 69.
Portugal: P Leal (Direito); David Mateus (Belenenses), F Sousa (Direito), Diogo Mateus (Belenenses), P Carvalho (Direito); D Pinto (Agronomia), J Pinto (Direito); R Cordeiro (Coimbra), J Ferreira (Porto), C Spachuck (Belenenses), G Uva (Montpellier), D Penalva (Blagnac), J Samoza (Agronomia), J Uva (Belenenses), V Uva (capt, Direito). Replacements: M Portela (Direito) for Sousa, 38; J Correia (Direito) for Ferreira, 52; P Murinello ( Cascais) for Penalva, 52; J Murre (Belenenses) for Cordeiro, 59; P Cabral (CDU Lisbon) for D Pinto, 60; D Coutinho (Direito) for J Uva, 64; L Pissarra (Agronomia) for J Pinto, 67.
Referee: S Walsh (New Zealand)Reuse content