Tonga caused a massive upset in Aberdeen on Saturday, outscoring Scotland two tries to none to win 21-15 at Pittodrie.
Scotland led 6-3 at half-time but second-period tries from Tukulua Lokotui and Fetu Vainikolo saw the Pacific Islanders earn their first ever Test triumph on the European stage
Another miserable loss for Scotland means they are winless in November, leaving coach Andy Robinson’s job hanging in the balance. They also finish the month outside the top eight seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw.
Greig Laidlaw kicked five penalties for Scotland, but the hosts were uninspired and ineffective on attack on the narrow pitch and were ultimately overpowered in an attritional affair.
Despite seeing three player sent to the sin bin, Tonga ran out deserved winners, claiming another big scalp after beating France at last year’s World Cup.
The Tongans came out with all guns blazing and their rousing early endeavours forced the Scots into giving away a penalty as Al Strokosch illegally entered a ruck.
There was a reprieve for the hosts, however, when fly-half Fangatapu ‘Apikotoa sent his 40-metre strike narrowly wide.
But they kept up the pressure and ‘Apikotoa was handed an immediate chance to make amends from closer range.
And this time his aim was true to give his side the lead.
Scotland hit back positively and quickly with a promising raid, but there was more frustration as Laidlaw’s angled penalty rebounded from the upright, allowing Tonga to clear the danger.
They maintained the momentum and a fine Laidlaw cross kick spread panic among the Tongan back ranks.
And the fly-half followed in the footsteps of his opposite number by banging over his second pot at goal in the 11th minute.
Tonga were posing plenty of problems when they were on the front foot, but Scotland looked sharp with the ball in the hands of the backs.
Their confidence was underlined as they opted to go for try points rather than another penalty.
Hooker Scott Lawson was driven over the line in the wake of a well-executed rolling maul, but the video referee ruled he had failed to ground the ball.
Only desperate defence kept out the Scots as they laid siege to the line during a series of scrums and further penalties.
Eight minutes of constant pressure yielded nothing for the home men and a tame turnover allowed the visitors to escape from their danger zone.
It was then Scotland’s turn to show off their defensive strengths as Tonga mounted a spate of raids.
But soon the Scots were back on the offensive thanks to a lightning break through the middle by Laidlaw.
He was involved again in the next phase, but yet again Tonga backtracked to mop up.
Scotland were given further incentive seven minutes before half time when lock Lokotui was sinbinned for dangerous tactics in the line out.
Prop Halani ‘Aulika was perhaps fortunate to dodge the same punishment for a no-arms body check on Matt Scott.
Having failed to breach the visiting markers, Scotland resorted to the boot – Laidlaw’s penalty giving them the edge.
The action continued to be disjointed and untidy after the restart.
But the crowd volume rose when Sean Lamont bashed his way down the middle to create a clear-cut chance.
They couldn’t turn the good work into a touchdown, but collected another three points from Laidlaw’s accuracy.
And there was more breathing space for Scotland when ‘Apikotoa was short with his next attempt at the sticks.
The contest burst into life in the 51st minute as Tonga snatched a surprise lead. Lokotui more than made up for his yellow card by burrowing over for a try from point-blank range, giving ‘Apikotoa a simple conversion.
Laidlaw instantly eased the Scots’ anxiety by adding penalty number four – and repeated the dose midway through the half.
But still Tonga looked more clinical in attack and ‘Apikotoa narrowed the gap with his next strike.
Even better was to come for the tourists as winger Vainikolo left his cover for dead with two dazzling dummies and galloped in for a superb solo try from his own half.
The tension level soared when debut substitute Tom Heathcote watched in agony as his first shot at goal dipped under the crossbar.
And Scotland’s task became a lost cause as ‘Apikotoa found the target again.
Pens: Laidlaw 5
Tries: Lokotui, Vainikolo
Pens: ‘Apikotoa 3
Yellow cards: Lokotui; Latu; Mafi
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Max Evans, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 David Denton, 7 Kelly Brown (c), 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Barclay, 21 Rory Lawson, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Nick De Luca.
Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 13 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Will Helu, 10 Fangatapu ‘Apikotoa, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Viliami Ma’afu, 7 Nili Latu (c), 6 Hale T Pole, 5 Tukulua Lokotui, 4 Joe Tu’ineau, 3 Halani ‘Aulika, 2 Elvis Taione, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Ilaisa Ma’asi, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Kamaliele Sakalia, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Viliame ‘longi, 22 Eddie Paea, 23 Alipate Fatafehi.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
- Planet Rugby