Steyn stars as youthful Scotland crush Tonga

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Kyle Steyn beats the Tonga defence for the second of his four tries (AFP/NEIL HANNA)
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Kyle Steyn scored four tries as Scotland crushed Tonga 60-14 in their Autumn Nations Series opener at Murrayfield on Saturday in preparation for tougher tests against Australia and South Africa.

Gregor Townsend handed international debuts to eight players in an experimental side that ran in 10 tries. Steyn scored four, Rufus McLean two and Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Nick Haining and Oli Kebble one each.

British and Irish Lions players Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell and Gloucester fly-half Adam Hastings were among Scotland's high-profile absentees after English and French clubs did not release players outside the official Test window.

McLean, Sione Tuipulotu, Jamie Hodgson and Schoeman were Scotland's four uncapped starters, while Luke Crosbie, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson and Marshall Sykes earned first caps from the bench.

The result made for ideal preparation before Scotland's November Tests against the Wallabies and world champion Springboks.

Ali Price identified Scotland's set-pieces as the platform for their dominant performance and described leading the team for the first time as co-captain with Jamie Ritchie as "tear in the eye stuff".

"You dream of playing for Scotland, but you don't really dream of being captain. To get that honour was massive," he told Amazon Prime Video.

Tonga beat Scotland for the first time in 2012, with a shock 21-15 win in Aberdeen prompting head coach Andy Robinson's resignation.

But a repeat never looked likely in Edinburgh after the Scots raced into a 36-9 lead by half-time with six tries.

Glasgow wing McLean opened the scoring just seven minutes into his international debut before James Faiva reduced the deficit to 7-3 with a penalty.

McLean then embarrassed the more experienced Faiva, dancing around the full-back to notch his second try in the 15th minute.

Faiva's second penalty made it 14-6 but Scotland extended their lead after a flowing passing move ended with Steyn scoring his first international try in the 22nd minute.

Tonga's spirited performance forced errors from the Scots and Faiva converted a third penalty to make the score 19-9.

But the hosts remained relentless, with Schoeman scoring a debut try from close range and Steyn grabbing his second of the match.

Glasgow's Steyn completed his hat-trick just before half-time as he finished a dynamic attack that started in Scotland's 22.

Tonga's difficult year has included a 102-0 drubbing by New Zealand and their misery continued after the break as Turner drove over following a line-out and rolling maul.

The visitors got a consolation try through David Lolohea in the 58th minute but replacements Haining and Kebble added further gloss to the scoreline for the home side.

Steyn capped his memorable day with a fourth score just before full-time in Scotland's first match in front of a Murrayfield crowd since March 2020.

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