Scotland v Samoa Rugby World Cup Review
Scotland bounced back from the misery of an opening round defeat to Ireland at the World Cup in Japan by hammering Samoa on Monday afternoon. The pressure was on the Scots who suffered a miserable day at the office on Sunday 22 September which ended in a heavy defeat to a team they were expected to push hard, as well as injury to some influential players.
Fans were up in arms at the early loss and the coaching staff didn’t look to protect the players either, preferring to allow them to feel that wrath after making a number of unforced errors. Scotland’s set-up and game relies heavily on free-flowing rugby with every man expected to do their job to the best of their abilities. It’s great to watch when it works but if one part of the attack breaks down it leaves them painfully low on numbers at the back.
That’s exactly what happened against Ireland and there was an argument to say Scotland threw it away as much as Ireland won it. Yes, credit must go to the Irish for the speed of their counterattack and taking the chances when they presented themselves, but Scotland was dreadfully poor that day and everyone knew it. They fumbled the ball in advanced areas are seemed too concerned with attack that it cost them defensively. For many of their tries that day, Ireland capitalised on the loose ball before sprinting up the park and scoring.
Better was expected from every single one of the players in game two. Fans also wanted to see a bit of improvement from the coaching staff who lacked a plan B in that loss to Ireland. Thankfully for fans, they got better on Monday with a resounding win over Samoa. Not a moment too soon either.
Scotland Explode Out of the Traps
That victory came thanks to a very strong showing in the first half and that was pleasing to the fans as it showed the Scotland players were listening and desperate to improve. The Scots exploded out of the traps and raced into a 20-0 lead by half-time. That cushion was achieved thanks to tries from Maitland and Laidlaw. The latter also chipped in with two conversions, nailed a penalty and Hogg struck a decent drop goal.
The underdogs were battered from pillar to post in the first 40 minutes but are a proud rugby playing nation and were expected to rally back in the second period. Samoa was desperate to get the ball on the ground and use their superior strength to overrun Scotland, dragging them into a fight, but the Brits were far too clever for that. They met Samoa head-on when it was needed but also had the intelligence to rack up points with well-placed kicks or playing the possession game.
It wasn’t always exciting and become one-way traffic, but it gave Scotland the win they so desperately needed, injecting confidence back into the ranks. With a Samoan onslaught expected early after the re-start, Scotland was bold and took the sting out of it early. It was the leaders who extended their advantage during the early exchanges, doing in the second 40 what they did in the opening few minutes of the first. Any hopes of a fightback were squashed before they could amount to anything substantial. From there the dark blues grew in confidence. They were able to try moves from the training ground they didn’t get the chance to with Ireland breathing down their necks and they also looked like a team who had proved a point and were relaxed enough to enjoy their rugby.
Winners Grab a Much-Needed Bonus Point
Not only did Scotland beat Samoa on a tricky afternoon, but they also did it so convincingly they were able to grab a much-needed bonus point and that boosted their chances of making it past the group stages and into the knockout phase of the World Cup. Scotland 34-0 Samoa was the final score and there’s a number of reasons to be happy with that. They kept a decent outfit from scoring and also worked on the mistakes they made against Ireland a week earlier.
The win and bonus point moved Scotland to joint third with Samoa who had won their previous outing. Scotland has five points on the board and that places them level with Samoa, a point behind Ireland and four off the pace of leaders Japan in World Cup Pool A. They are now right back in the mix and have real hopes of qualifying again.
The victors now play Russia on Wednesday morning. That’s another must-win contest but what we have seen from Russia so far would suggest Scotland are more than capable of getting the job done and shooting for the bonus point. The Russians were beaten by Japan in the opening match of the tournament. Then comes the match with Japan on 13 October and if everything goes to plan that should be a shoot-out for a place in the next round, which will make for exciting viewing.
Scotland Written Off by Bookies
The current outright betting for the World Cup in Japan has Scotland written off as a 125/1 shot with William Hill and that’s difficult to argue against on the back of what we saw vs Ireland. This team is better than that and should perform better than their price suggests but the players must prove themselves good enough to compete first.
125/1 is a big price and it’ll surely grab the attention of value hunters, especially if the team get a win and bonus point against Russia. Each-way backers will get 1/3 the odds a place 1-2 which acts as a bit of a safety net when shooting for a big price outsider like Scotland.