Big, brutal and bruising battle … and that was just the warm-up

Bosco Tikoisuva. He was the first Fijian rugby player I ever heard of and, for a few years, was the only one.

On a black-and-white telly, I marvelled at his pace and guile as he performed for the Barbarians, a couple of his contributions eventually making it in to the BBC’s “100 Great Tries” compilation video, by which time they appeared in colour.

Tikoisuva was in his pomp during the 1970s and, thankfully, a few more of his countrymen have emerged since to make their impact on world rugby, or maybe that should be impact on opponents.

The Fijians at Murrayfield yesterday appeared to come in one size – muckle big.

Their warm-up looked brutal. Coach John McKee directed operations, which appeared to consist of organising a series of almighty collisions between team-mates, with little or no caution shown considering there was an international game still to be played.

Fireworks and flame throwers, and especially loud music is standard fare these days before every major event, and Test match rugby is no different.

What was out of the ordinary, however, was the match balls being delivered by abseiling Royal Marines. I’m led to believe this is merely a sideline compared to their real day job.

A lone, female piper on the roof of the far stand, led the rendition of Flower of Scotland. I have to say, I was a wee bit disappointed that she didn’t dismount the structure in the same manner as those Marines.

If the Scots possess a stirring battle hymn, then they could do with maybe a war dance to go with it.

The Fijians performed the Cibi ahead of kick-off. Less menacing than the New Zealand Haka, it was still well received by a discerning audience, one or two of who probably identified with those same steps from weddings and family gatherings, without realising their origins.

There was more dancing on the pitch and in the stands when Fiji, already a couple of scores down, grabbed their first try, the instantly recognisable form of Viliame “Big Bill” Mata, a local resident with Edinburgh, smashing his way through the Scotland defence to score.

He is a sizeable unit, but most weeks the Murrayfield regulars only get to see him ball carrying and smashing those they are happy to see smashed. There was an audible gasp as the 6ft 5in, 18-stone backrower battered his way through, and over, would-be Scottish tacklers. Still, polite applause rang out, probably thinking the Fijians had had their moment. What is it yon song says about “think again”?

Semi Radradra grabbed a second touchdown as the visitors led 17-14, and did so until the stroke of half-time when Tommy Seymour crossed in the corner.

But this wasn’t what people had spent money to watch. Gregor Townsend called Fiji the Brazil of rugby, given their ability to run and pass and entertain.

Sadly, they only running some were doing was in the direction of the sin bin. By the interval, Fiji had received two yellow cards, impressive, but some way off their world record five against Italy in 2013.

Thankfully there was a whole lot more for the sell-out crowd to celebrate after the turnaround, as the Scots cut loose.

Tommy Seymour ended with a hat-trick of tries.

There was still time for a wee cameo from Adam Hastings. He certainly has the looks to be the poster boy of Scottish rugby in years to come, and the ability as well given the way he ran in his score. The irony, of course, was that the man making the try was Finn Russell, the very man Hastings Jr has to dispossess of the No 10 jersey. Easier said than done.

Still, the teenage girls watching on – and a few who left their teenage years a while back – were all smiles, and the Saltire-painted faces beamed when Hastings went in for his score.

It’s not every day you see your team clock up 50-plus points in a Test match, regardless of the opposition, and it helped cast Cardiff a week ago from the memory.

Now for the Springboks. That’ll be good.