Scots smothered by Samoan pressure

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The Independent Online

Scotland A 9 Western Samoa 26

Western Samoa, the team not considered good enough to play with the big boys of the southern hemisphere, proved comfortably too strong and streetwise for Scotland's second string at Hawick yesterday.

Scotland A won virtually no worthwhile possession as the World Cup quarter- finalists - omitted from the new Inter-Provincial series and international tournament at home - cranked up several gears after launching their tour with a low-key victory over Edinburgh in midweek.

Scotland A led 9-6 at half-time with three penalties from Scott Welsh to a couple from Darren Kellet. But the Samoans dominated after the restart, a thrust by both centres creating space for Sila Vaifale to run unopposed to the posts to put them ahead for the first time. Kellet converted, as he did when Pat Lam rounded off a pushover try near the end. Kellet also scored another penalty and a drop goal for a personal haul of 16 points.

Despite his side being on short rations at the set-pieces and shut out in the loose, Gary Armstrong, in his first major appearance since rupturing knee ligaments almost 18 months ago, still looked short of match fitness. Armstrong will, nevertheless, be named today among Scotland's replacements for the Test on Saturday, as will Eric Peters, arguably the best forward yesterday.

Armstrong was restricted to clearance work and his frustration showed when he struck out wildly after being blatantly impeded by Lam on one of the few occasions the first half spluttered into life. There must have been a few in a crowd of 5,000 who were envious at the escape route provided for a Bill Niblow, requested over the public address to remove his car from the High Street, where it was "parked on top of a gas leak."

Western Samoa earned generous praise from Graham Hogg, the Scotland A coach, who said: "They played very, very, well. I was most impressed. Ten of them played against Edinburgh but today they looked a different side altogether."

Jim Telfer, Scotland's director of rugby, was disappointed by the lack of possession created by a side whose lack of adventure in the face of stifling midfield pressure was summed up by the fact that it took 70 minutes for Hugh Gilmour to get a touch on the right wing.

Telfer said: "Scotland A tended to go to ground too early, but late on showed a bit of enterprise in midfield. But that was close to Samoa's Test team and they looked far tidier than they did in midweek."

Telfer also praised Peters, playing in the unaccustomed role of blind- side flanker, saying: "Peters looked like an international out there."

Scotland A: Penalties Welsh 3. Western Samoa: Tries Vaifale, Lam; Conversions Kellet 2; Penalties Kellet 3; Drop goal Kellet.

SCOTLAND A: S Lang; H Gilmour (both Heriot's FP), S Nichol (Selkirk), I Jardine (Stirling County), D Stark (Boroughmuir); S Welsh (Hawick), G Armstrong (Jed-Forest, capt); G Wilson (Boroughmuir), G Ellis (Currie), S Paul (Heriot's FP), I Elliot (Hawick), S Campbell (Dundee High), E Peters (Bath), B Renwick (Hawick), J Amos (Gala).

WESTERN SAMOA: S Leaega; V Patu, T Vaega, G Leaupepe, A Telea; D Kellet, J Filemu; M Mika, T Leiasamaivao, P Fatialofa, L Falaniko, P Leavasa, S Kaleta, P Lam (capt), S Vaifale.

Referee: A Spreadbury (England).