Rugby World Cup: Scotland dismisses Tonga and returns to the race for qualification

We had almost forgotten them

Rugby World Cup: Scotland dismisses Tonga and returns to the race for qualification

We had almost forgotten them. Saturday September 23, the battle at the top and the masterpiece of intensity offered by the South Africans and the Irish – winners 13 to 8 –, at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) focused attention and obscured the race for the quarter-finals in Group B. But the next day, the Scots reminded us that they would also have to be counted on. Fast, powerful and disciplined, Finn Russell and his teammates defeated Tonga (45-17) without too many problems, and with the offensive bonus point, at the Nice stadium.

Beaten by the Springboks when they entered the competition, the players of the XV du Chardon knew that they no longer had a joker in this World Cup, and that a hypothetical qualification for the final phase would now go flawlessly during of their last three group matches. “It adds motivation. There are a lot of things to focus on anyway, taking care of Tonga, taking care of us..., confided third row Rory Darge at a press conference on Saturday. This is enough to occupy our minds. If you do that, there's not much room to think about the added pressure. »

The first part of the Scottish mission was seriously fulfilled this Sunday. And without wasting time. From the second minute of play, full-back Blair Kinghorn was going to flatten in the Tongan in-goal by overtaking the defense. If his try was finally canceled for a head-on, the Scots did it again three minutes later with a strong effort – and this time validated – from hooker George Turner.

Duhan van der Merwe beamed

Well launched, the beautiful mechanics of the XV du Chardon stalled somewhat afterwards. As in this try by Tongan winger Solomone Kata following a magnificent collective movement in a small space (20th) or on the powerful charge finishing in the goal of Bordeaux pillar Ben Tameifuna (44th). But the Scots never seemed in danger, thanks in particular to four tries scored in the first half, having already assured them the offensive bonus point when the protagonists of the match returned to take a break in the locker room.

Among the Scottish arrows who found the target, winger Duhan van der Merwe particularly stood out. In all the good moves, he signed his team's second try along the touchline (26th) and constantly posed danger to the rearguard of the Ikale Tahi ("the Sea Eagles", in Tongan). His slalom and his run into the heart of the defense would have deserved a better fate, but his teammates did not manage to realize the action of their winger (70th).

With its counter unlocked in the rankings, the hardest part is now yet to come for the XV du Chardon: challenging Ireland on October 7 to dream of qualifying for the quarters. In the meantime, they will have to get rid of Romania on September 30. Tonga will face South Africa on October 1, then the same Romanians a week later. If they are not yet mathematically eliminated, the Pacific players have virtually no chance of seeing their competition continue.