Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Samoa 27-17 Scotland

tom heathcote
tom heathcote

Scotland slumped to a disappointing first ever defeat to a dogged Samoan side, who showcased their abilities with ball-in-hand early on and eventually ran out 27-17 winners in Durban.

Scott Johnson’s side got off to a dismal start, conceding two tries inside the opening quarter, the first from Connacht full-back James So’oialo, who rounded off a well-crafted counter attack to evade the tackle of debutante Greig Tonks and score in the corner. Just minutes later, danger man Alesana Tuilagi benefited from poor Scottish defending by to race clear and score and give the Islanders an 11-point advantage, with Greig Laidlaw having kicked a penalty either side of the Samoan tries.

The Edinburgh captain’s boot kept the scoreboard ticking over during the opening period, and helped establish a foothold in the match shortly thereafter with another penalty to reduce the deficit.

There was disappointment for Glasgow hooker Pat MacArthur, who was forced off after less than 10 minutes of his debut following a typically bruising encounter with a Samoan. That handed another first cap to Edinburgh counterpart Stevie Lawrie, who impressed in the first period.

However, the Samoans looked vastly more dangerous in attack, and perhaps should have added to their total in the first period, only for scramble defence to save the Scots on a couple of occasions, with Newcastle number eight Taiasina Tuifua to the fore.

Having missed a pair of penalties, Laidlaw redeemed himself as he added another penalty before the interval to make it 14-9 at the break to the impressive Islanders.

Half-time: Samoa 14-9 Scotland

After a well below-par first half performance, Johnson’s side came out revitalised in the opening exchanges of the second period, although minus injured captain Kelly Brown, who was replaced by Ryan Wilson at the interval.

Laidlaw added another penalty to make it a two-point game, before the moment of the match for the Scottish supporters in Durban, and even that was heart-in-mouth stuff.

The ball was spilled by the Samoans from a 5 metre scrum and when the ball was worked wide, Sean Lamont eventually capitalised to score his 10th Test try in the corner, despite a fumble in midfield that threatened to butcher the good work. Laidlaw’s conversion went past the post but the men in navy blue had taken the lead for the first time.

From then on, though, it was all Samoa, as So’oialo added another penalty to level the scores before that man Tuilagi charged over the top of another debutante, Peter Horne, to score underneath the posts. So’oialo converted and added another penalty to give the Samoans a ten-point lead inside the final quarter.

The Scots tried their best to get back into the match, with replacement Duncan Taylor looking lively on his debut, but the Samoans were ultimately too strong and they held out to record a historic win over a poor Scotland side.


11 Responses

  1. That was appalling. The only positive I could see is that heathcote looks a real prospect and is much better than Jackson.

  2. Oh dear! Back to the drawing board again. Just dreadful wasnt it? No oomph at all from anyone really. Poor passing, coughing it up in the tackle, aimless kicking, disorganised defence, slow line speed, etc, etc. laidlaw had a howler today by robbing any phase play of momentum by taking an age at the base of each ruck. The backs were all far too flat and devoid of any basic handling skills. Lastly, missing that many tackles is sinful at test level, especially so when you know well in advance the physicality to be expected from Samoa. Changes? Pyrgos, a proper seven (which we dont have on tour), a total ban on kicking outside our 22, a swift arse kicking about their general attitude and lack of brains!

  3. They looked like they just wanted to be on holiday and we looked very small. I know samoa are big but we should be out structuring them. Played like shadows clustering around the ball and no nouse regarding running angles

  4. I agree with John P on the percieved size, the lack of nous and running lines.

    The thing is though- for most of the national team this is their bread and butter with Glasgow. I know three were missing from the start with the Lions and we didn’t start a couple of good players, but I did expect more.

    Anyway- Heathcote looked good, but it’s Laidlaw who I feel is letting us down more than any fly half anyway. His constant box kicking antagonised me at the 6N and he was no more keen to retain the ball here, again trading possession for a 20 yard kick being returned by rampaging Samoan runners. Poor show.

    NZ are able to trade possession and kicks to obtain counter attacking ball because they’re very good at it and tend to use Carter to kick from hand to put the ball deep, not rely on scrum half box kicks or weak efforts from hand and applying far more pressure to then benefit from the poor or hurried return kicks.

    We were, under Robbo, very good at keeping and turning over possession, and under Johnson we have improved the effectiveness of our countering, but we must combine the two elements to some degree. We have the try scorers and the players with that ‘x factor’ (sorry), with the revitalised Johnny Beattie, Tim Visser, Stuart Hogg et al. But we must work on building platforms to win games.

    This is what Cotter must do.

    Having said all of that, it is important to remember the number of uncapped or limited caps in the team, and to recognise the lack of the 4 lions and of course the continuing absence of Ross Rennie and for me, his natural rival Chris Fusaro who hopefully will challenge under Cotter if he can regain his form of 11/12 after the injury ravaged 12/13.

    1. What annoys me more than anything is, having watched Glasgow play so well this season, these Glasgow players in the Scotland team suddenly look ploddingly slow and laborious. I simply cannot believe that Niko, amazing though he is, is the sole reason for the Warriors good play. There is either a mental block or the coaches are telling them to play this way. Perhaps the Edinburgh players are dragging them down to their level, which brings us back to Laidlaw. He seems to think that his sole purpose is to gift the ball to the opposition at every available opportunity. He also seems to have made himself undroppable somehow. No player should be allowed to be in a position where they believe the jersey is theirs automatically. Ford, Laidlaw, Murrray, Gray, and others are currently or have been guilty of this and consequently, not putting in the required effort. Cotter cant come soon enough!

  5. I knew we would lose this game before it started, and I was right. It was a pretty all round poor performance, aside from strockosh playing well. But I’m sure everyone wasn’t that bad. I hate picking out one person I feel lost the game for us. But I in this case it was laidlaw his service is so slow! Horrifically slow and that not to mention him box kicking all possession away! Every time pyrgos comes on things happen. And quick ball comes around. Just play him instead.

  6. Yep, I think Pyrgos has to play. He won’t.

    It’s a shame, but Laidlaw is Edinburgh’s main man and the best kicker, so he’ll continue to start ahead of Pyrgos in part because Pyrgos is very much the second choice (3rd when Cuss returns?) at Glasgow.
    I’d like to think Kennedy can make himself a candidate by 2015 as he’s looked a good player.

  7. Agree with he comments made about Laidlaw. I think he’s the most overated player in Scottish Rugby and even thought this back in the six nations.
    Firstly he’s part of an Edinburgh team who have had a shocking season and failed to produce any form or momentum in the Rabo, being in such a key position in this team surely he has to bear some of the responibility for this.

    Instead he seems to be the first choice scrum half solely because he is a consistent goal kicker. In reality , I find myself screaming for him to get the ball out quicker, he seems to take his time and stand around at the base of the ruck preventing us from getting quick ball. His box kicking is shocking and ineffective.

    As a scrumhalf he’s meant to act as the link between the forwards and the backs, however the amount of times he fails to play heads up Rugby is astonishing for an International scrum half, for example Lamonts try against Samoa was poorly executed, the forwards kept picking and putting their heads down and were completely oblivious of the 5 man over lap outside. This again can be blamed on our hopeless scrum half. Bring in Pyrgos.

  8. I’m going to disagree with the slating Laidlaw’s getting. I thought this game was a general step-up from his performances in the six nations, and several times when put under pressure he managed to evade Samoan defence and put another player into space.

    My bigger problem is with the very poor breakdown work across the team, it seemed like every Scottish runner was isolated and I noticed that in almost every single ruck the forwards were having to clear out defenders who had made it to the ball first. It is somewhat promising that they were able to dislodge these players, but against a more competent team Scotland would not have retained the ball more than two or three phases.

    As much as it pains me to say this, Scotland were better under Robinson. With his gameplan they would have choked Samoa out of the game and won it, not by much, but they would have won. Johnson has been a large step back in nearly every regard for the national side and Cotter can’t come soon enough.

    1. Scotland were not better under Robinson. How quickly have you forgotten the Tonga debacle? Scotland had ups and downs but the harsh facts are that they failed in the 6Ns and the world cup every time that it mattered under Robinson. I agree that it would be far preferable if Cotter was with the squad already.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion