Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Samoa 33-36 Scotland

Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross
Greig Laidlaw - pic © Al Ross

Samoa had a lively start to this vital tie at St James Park in Newcastle, showing an attacking intent aimed at restoring pride and playing some better rugby than they have thus far.

Scotland on the other hand ran Matt Scott right into burly Samoan defenders where he was promptly turned over and not long after Tusi Pisi slotted the first points for Samoa.

Scott found some ground on his next attempts but Samoan tackling was fierce and the men in navy struggled to retain possession. Luckily the set piece was solid, with Dickinson getting the upper hand on Census Johnstone and Laidlaw kicking the points to draw level.

From there Samoa came right back at Scotland with worrying ease, slipping past tacklers to put Pisi over in the corner. The Scots at least didn’t look phased and were soon forcing Samoa deep into their own half, when Seymour batted the ball free from a loose pass and regathered to score with typical opportunism.

The Scots defence was at fault again though as Samoa began a period of breathless tit-for-tat scoring and it wasn’t until Pisi missed his first conversion that the crowd could breathe after 10 minutes of madness.

And it continued.

Whenever lines were set or play was restarted, the Scots benefited from Samoan indiscipline. Whenever it was fast and loose, Scotland looked in trouble as the Samoan passes all stuck and the Scots were for the first time looking unsure of their systems.

So it was when Lee-Lo dotted down in the corner (despite Scottish protestations of a knock on), and again when they almost scored before half time. Laidlaw was hauled away from his defensive position off the ball which meant the score was knocked off.

In between that, Scotland went down to fifteen men as Ryan Wilson lashed out with his foot and was lucky not to get a red, despite being held. The set-piece also rescued Scotland on the scoreboard with a Hardie try from the lineout, showing the way for the second half lay in structure, not madness.

HT Samoa 26-23 Scotland

Unfortunately it was more of the same in the second half as the Scots tried to obtain dominance with lineout drives and scrums, while the Samoans unsettled them with big hits and pounced on any technical errors to make big gains in territory.

An increasing amount of mauls came unstuck as the Samoans grew in confidence, but the scrum was still holding firm and gave Laidlaw the first chance for points. It was almost disappointing that the first ten minutes saw only 3 points scored by either team.

Wilson had a great break that almost made up for his earlier brainfart, but the passes didn’t stick, however Nel was down into the maul like a warthog and Laidlaw kicked the points to give Scotland the lead. He almost knocked another one over minutes later, and missed a second, easier one on the hour mark as the Samoan penalty count increased.

But it had, to Scotland’s credit, started to look like a more normal rugby match. Perhaps less exciting for the neutral, but easier on our blood pressure. Scotland were able to build phases, with Nel and Gray big figures in the pack but out wide Russell didn’t quite have the space for a bit of magic that could open the game up.

Maitland and Bennett looked almost surprised when they got the ball, but Scotland looked to be in the ascendancy as the benches emptied despite just a narrow 3 point lead.

With just over ten to play there was another spell of crazyball as Finn finally found a gap and Maitland streaked through, but from there the Samoans snatched the ball and made it deep into the Scotland half before the Scots were awarded a penalty.

Hogg, who’d struggled with cramp as he had against South Africa, came off to allow Sean Lamont a 100th cap and ten minutes to try and get that vital win in the bag.

It was the other end of the team sheet that came closer, as WP Nel barrelled over but was adjudged held up, but Scotland were keeping it in the right part of the pitch and the Samoans continued to infringe although Peyper showed no signs of a yellow card appearing from his pocket.

When Laidlaw was offered a penalty under the sticks, he took the scrum and when it splintered under Scottish pressure, found the space to dart round the back and stretch out for possibly the most important try he’ll score for Scotland, and vindicating his choice.

Given the first half, there was always a chance of something instant from Samoa narrowing the lead and ratcheting up the tension for the final five minutes, and so it was with a try on their very next attack on the Scotland line putting hearts in mouths and harking back to RWC 2007 and the test in Apia which was similarly close. In the end Laidlaw rallied his men, played some Munster keep-ball and booted it into the stands the very second he could get away with it.

It wasn’t a pretty game if you are Vern Cotter or any of the Scotland coaches, but for the neutrals there were plenty of tries, plenty of drama and some big hits.

For us, Scotland are in the quarter finals.

SRBlog Man of the Match: WP Nel was huge in the scrum, carried and tackled like a slightly biltong flavoured Braveheart and Hardie put in another massive shift, but Greig Laidlaw kicked a bucketload of points then finished a huge call with his own try. If he hadn’t scored it would have been a different story but he captained the second half superbly.

99 Responses

  1. Voice gone! Blood pressure up! Have to do it again next week! Pressure off now though! Great to see the boys hold their nerve at the end! Lots to work on, not least restarts, but a happy night!

  2. All a bit unexpected. I thought Scotlnd would dominate the match, but it was the other way round.
    Scotland did show some composure under pressure, but never really had enough precision to pull away from Samoa.
    Some players went missing entirely. The backs were anonymous and the only passmarks I’d give would be to Seymour.
    Of the forwards, Richie Gray was immense all through the game, as was Hardie.
    I’m really not sure what to make of that performance, other than we were not very good. Sorry to be a bit negative after a win, but I was expecting more and I feel very disappointed.
    Our defence, particularly in the first half was terrible, and the less said about the taking of restarts the better.
    Be sure it will be targeted in the QF.

    1. Ritchie has been getting better every game in this campaign.
      Hardie remains a real find.
      Great shift from the front row.
      Laidlaw had probably his best game for Scotland.
      Not quite worked out what the game plan was for the start of the game. The backs looked like they didn’t want or expect the ball and forgot the defensive pattern.
      This blog could probably talk all night about the restarts!

  3. I have no fingernails left and I feel as though I’ve aged by 20 years. Samoa looked as though they could go through our defence at will at times. We really need to work on restarts. Laidlaw, Hardie and Seymour were excellent, the Grays were good. Wilson’s sending off was very silly. Need to watch the game again to assess everyone else. Onwards to the quarter-finals!

    1. For most of the last 15 years we’d have lost that at the death. This team is moving forward. We won and there’s still stuff to work on! So lots to be optimistic about.

      1. For most of the last 15 years we would have been out of it by half time. Great resilience to squeeze that win when not playing well. Never been a fan of Laidlaw, but he was spot on today. Cool head under pressure. Now, we still haven’t produced a top notch performance, maybe the QF. We will certainly need it.
        I think Jaco Peyper left his YC in the dressing room in the second half. In the English Championship, there would have been several YC’s – Moseley were down to 12 at one stage in their game today for repeat infringements.
        Last of all, we have scored 14 tries in the group stage which is a vast improvement on recent World Cups.

  4. Well we got there! All credit to Samoa for an outstanding effort on their part. Just about tore my hair out with the restarts, I counted 15 points we shipped in the first 20 or so as a direct result of either losing or not securely taking the ball from kick offs.

    Big shifts by Richie Gray, why doesn’t he play like that all the time? Hardie who was sublime, Nel, Ford and Laidlaw. Backs were largely forgettable, honorable mentions to Seymour and Maitland. Were Scott and Bennett playing? Russell was also pretty poor and Hogg continues his run of bad form. Laidlaws management was excellent, brave but correct decision to take the scrum that lead to his try, he knew fine well we wouldn’t catch (and we didn’t) the restart so we better get 7 rather than 3.

    On the positive side the forwards fronted up a lot better than against the Boks against a very physical Samoa. We seemed to crash through tackles better and our mauls were effective, hardie seemed to have a lot to do with that. Denton was rubbish again and Strauss was better than Wilson. Can’t really blame Wilson for his binning, the guy was pulling him back and he lashed out, silly but understandable and very lucky not to be red.

    On the ref front I thought Samoa should have had someone binned towards the end, the amount of penalties they were conceding was laughable, but otherwise he had a reasonable game, I’ll rewatch as usual but I couldn’t see any gross miscarriages of justice.

    1. The great miscarriage of injustice being the lack of multiple yellow cards? How can any team have 9 penalties in 22 minutes in the second half having already committed many in the first half and receive their first warning in 70 minutes? Although in some ways I was glad cos we seem to lose more points playing against 14 men than not which is weird and disappointing.

      i listened to the whole match on Radio Scotland and although you have to filter Peter Wright’s Ref Com it was incredible at times. I heard four penlties for high tackles within ten minutes and surely that is a yellow in itself? South Africa got away with one before yellow on the second one against Scotland. The other issue highlighted on Radio Scotland was the tackler not releasing the player before competing then Scotland getting pinged for holding on.

      Peyper has got down in my estimations and he doesn’t have the ability to stop teams like Samao gettig away with cheating. Poor show. The ref in the Wales game was right on. No problem with a yellow straight away for tackling within 10 metres denying a clear try and then another yellow shortly after. Think there was 7 or 8 penalties in that barage of the line and two yellows is about right.

      Peyper has reffed his last game of this World Cup. You have to be brave as a ref with such things happening an make big calls to make sure the game is fair. Peyper didn’t so he’ll be going home!!!

      1. I think high tackles have generally been reffed very poorly this world cup, disappointing given the recent focus on head injuries.

      2. I’ve now looked back at the full game visually and there is no doubt they are clever in how they have commited the penalties. They are never really camped on their line for an extended period until our third try and so each penalty was committed then they went to a different type of penalty for the next one and then some other area and so on. However for a referee to not work out that 9 penalties in 22 mins after half-time is just a bit excessive is ridiculous. Especially when if he’d done his homework they had 3 yellows in the previous game so beaware of this trend. Referees in rugby always give the formal warning before a yellow for repeated infringment but he seems blissfully unaware of the 19 penalty count. I think it was 12 to 3 in the second half. It’s crazy. I being a football referee (completely different game) am told to look out for persistent offenders and sanction players to stop a team from benefitting from stoppig the opposition playing. JP had the power and duty to this on Saturday. Why he failed is beyond me but it was criminal.

  5. We allowed Samoa to bully us especially in the first half, just as South Africa had done, they were scoring at will. We really need to work on our first half performance and get on the front foot. Samoa were turning us over at nearly every tackle in that half yet we failed to get in and clear them out. We did well to get back into it by half time. Much better again in the second half, we need our players to sort things out for themselves on the pitch and not wait on Vern’s half time talk.
    Having said all that, well done lads in getting back and winning the game. Hardie had a great game followed by Seymour, R Gray and Nel. Good to see a decent Scottish scrum again. I would start with Strauss and Brown next week for Denton and Ford. Whether it be Wales or Australia, they will have noted how South Africa and Samoa used their greater size, strength and power to run through us!

  6. 1.8 – Agree with your comments about Bennett/Scott. Where were they?
    The worst I’ve ever seen Bennett play.
    Either Hogg is playing with an injury or is just in poor form. If the former, then I’m not sure he should play in the QF.
    Denton is still the only no 8 I’ve ever seem who can’t pass a ball. Think we should put him at 6 and Strauss at 8.

    1. Hogg looked over emotional at the start. Still too much nervous energy there I think. He shouldn’t be cramping up this much. Wasn’t kicked (or passed) enough ball to shine today though!

  7. Cant believe Hardie is still a free agent. Lets get the SRU to give him a longer term contract.

    1. I’ve a sneaking suspicion that he might be waiting to see if he can prove his worth to a French team. He’s moved all this way over here so I’d imagine he’ll be looking to get the best deal for his family. A good French side might look at him and decide that he’s worth it.

      1. I expect he just doesn’t want to be negotiating contracts in the middle of the World Cup. Saying that, I’d be staggered if a French team didn’t shower him with money when he is free to join them.

    2. Hopefully he can get through the world cup without injury and that he has good insurance in his short term contract with the SRU.

  8. Restarts, Restarts, Restarts, Restarts. The only reason we managed to control the scoreboard in the second half was because we kicked it off. Wales or Australia will hoist them to the moon next week.

    The life expectancy in Scotland must have halved during that game. I’m never watching the replay again. I felt like I’d done 80 minutes in the front row by the end.

    Russell was trying to do everything himself when he got the ball, when all we needed to do was control the game and go through the phases.

    After all the talk about our all star backs, it was our forwards and 9 that won us the game. The driving maul of all things!

    Really hope Dickenson and Nel are alright after having to go the full 80. We need to get Rory Sutherland in the squad for the six nations and pull a second tight head from somewhere ungodly because we cant have these guys doing 80 minutes in every close game.

    The referee was unbelievable. 19 penalties and not 1 yellow card! Barely an empty warning after 70 minutes. He was just sickeningly biased.

    1. again Think you’re being unfair on Gordon Reid who looked good during his short stint when Dickenson was going through his head knock protocols. Reid is a beast in the loose.
      Rory Sutherland? A prospect clearly, but what has he done yet to deserve the promotion?

      1. I’m not criticising Reid – he’s a great player. But if Big Vern isn’t willing to put these guys on in a tight game after 60, regardless of their quality, the impact is the same on Dickenson and Nel.

        Edinburgh scrums have been dominant regardless of who they have on the pitch – During the world cup Sutherland has been great and I know it’s a totally different level, but we have to try new players going forward if the current second choices aren’t trusted by the coaching staff to get the job done.

      2. That was Cotters choice but doesn’t mean he doesn’t trust in others. I wouldn’t trust some of Cotters first choices, particularly Ford. I also support and watch all of the Edinburgh matches and have yet to see the scrum dominance in Sutherland you talk about. Parity possibly, but this isn’t supposed to be a ‘party political’ on behalf of the Edinburgh party!

    2. Also just re-read my comment and realised how damn moany it was! Was so exhausted after the game it genuinely felt like a defeat and not the most important win in Scottish rugby in 15 years.


      We just won a very tough test against highly motivated and on-their-game opposition! Scotland would have folded 4 years ago for sure. Now we have a team with the brass, ability and togetherness to grind out a win under immense pressure, even when their primary weaponry was misfiring.

      We’ve scored 14 tries in 4 games! We scored just 4 at the last world cup.

      For the first time in the current tournament we scored some bankable tries. One from a strong driving maul and the other off the back of a dominant scrum on the 5 yard line. Our forwards will have gained a huge amount from this win. It’s no longer all about our backs.

      We’ve reached the last 8 teams in the WORLD, drawing a line between ourselves and the teams in the rankings double digits in the process. If we can get some wins at next years six nations, we will have silenced the people talking about punting us out of our own tournament.

      The nerves we suffered today should be a thing of the past next week – we can relax and just throw everything at Australia.

      We’ve bought 4 more years of continued belief in Scottish rugby to develop our club game and increase sponsorship and investment. Given the progress we’ve made at that level, four years should be enough to really put Scottish rugby on the map.

      1. That is a very good summary. For me the fact we have rediscovered how to score tries is the most important aspect. Wales showed no guile at all today against Australia, just, bush, bosh, bash, no wonder their try count was zero.

      2. Good assessment Robbie. I said before this tournament I don’t think we will see our full potential until the 6 Nations and I still hold to that

        We are on our way there

  9. Help ma boab! We’re through, delighted. Credit to Samoa, they turned up, were awesome in the loose and highlighted the shame of some of the disparaging remarks that were posted here prior to the game. MOTM chat spot on Hardie and Nel VG, but Laidlaw managed the win and grabbed the crucial try. Good to get the win in a techt match. Too often have we been on the wrong side of that of late and it shows progress. I think we have played to our level, possibly above the expectations of many (plenty outside Scotland predicted Samoa to go through pre-tournament). Looks like it’s going to be Australia. Their defence is impressive and we know what they can do in attack. And we’ll have to face the Hoocock. Feck it – bring it on!

  10. Scotland displayed big cajones in achieving this victory, a patchy performance but understandable given the pressure put on by a motivated Samoan side with something to prove.

  11. What did other people think about the Samoan defending in the second half? They had three men yellow carded against Japan. They gave a similarly huge number of penalties against us and yet … nothing. Make no mistake, we need to be far better against Australia but I hope we get a bit more from the referee next week.

    1. They’re a reckless, dangerous and dirty team. At least half a dozen tackles round the neck in the second half alone. Defies belief that at least 1 wasn’t binned.

      1. Indeed, but I thought a few of ours were high / lack of arms too so on the balance I think we did ok out of it.

    2. Peyper is a pretty poor ref and considering how low the standard of test level referreeing is these days that means he is frigging awful. JP Doyle on the touch line was a disgrace too. Totally ignored their 9 slinging the ball into the scrum behind the hookers feet. Even Owens who is excellent at all other aspects of reffing has been guilty of ignoring this. It’s almost as if all the refs have gotten together and decided that those laws shouldn’t be applied!!

      England’s game tonight has been littered with missed forward passes, ruck and maul offences and other nonsense being ignored! The smaller teams get bugger all from these so called elite refs!

      1. I have long ago given up hope of an even break from “Sir”, whoever he happens to be. The standard is so low that even Wayne Barnes looks good. God forbid we get Clancy next weekend.

        We have a bit to answer for ourselves as JJ is the heid bummer of the refs. Grrrrrrrrrr. ?

  12. Having just watched the Wales Australia game I fear we may have a tough time in the GFs. Oh well, better to be knocked out by the Aussies than the Welsh – a little more exotic than standard 6N fare.

    Agree on most comments above, particularly the lack of a yellow. Pleased to see Samoa go home with some pride though.

    As long as we see a good performance next week, and don’t get rolled over, I’ll be happy enough.

      1. I think we are huge underdogs for the next game. Australia’s defence looks very strong and held up against Wales even with two men in the bin. I think our only hope might be to play to our strengths, get the backs involved and offload a bit. Wales kept trying to batter through the middle with the big boys and got nowhere.

      2. I agree that we’re huge underdogs for the reasons you mention. But we should still expect to win. Today was not the total performance that the players seem to believe is in them.

      3. Of course you may. I hope you’re right. The team is clearly capable of a bigger, more complete performance than they’ve shown so far. Let’s hope it comes at the right time.

  13. Great, just like the old days! We’re getting stuffed so the forwards tuck it up their jumpers and(with the help of our dynamic, ice-blooded scrum-half ) pull our tattles out the fire. Hope Russell and Bennett were just ring rusty and that Hogg is suffering from a solvable physical complaint and not a victim of believing his own publicity.
    Great result .

  14. Missed the game. Going to watch on catch up. Bit worried that Dunbar aside it was our strongest team, but still think that post Humphries are forward play will improve. Don’t seem to do to well against teams that front up in the pack. Oz are technical but hardly monsters so what the hell Scotland, we are where we predicted and go out there and have fun and see what happens!!!

  15. I’m sorry but that was awful. Defensive line which was previously excellent was all over the place. Ability to deal with restarts was amateurish, and first up tackling was dreadful. We showed guts to win against a limited Samoa team, but we were truly miles off the pace against a team Japan took apart. So disappointing. We need to raise it 200% for the quarters or the Aussies will crush us.

    1. I think comparing the Samoa team that turned up today compared to the one that didn’t turn up against Japan is apples and pears. This was Samoa’s one game and by far their best performance.

      1. I agree but that was because we let them get a foothold in the game early doors. The importance of a good start had been talked about all week but instead we produced our worst. Still we qualified which was always the objective.

  16. Just back from the match. Fantastic atmosphere and more Scotland fans than I have ever seen outside Murrayfield. Clueless first half. Restarts? Nuff said. Much better second 40 but not enough points to show for it. Some schoolboy passing errors that ruined promising positions. Agree we need to step up a good deal to down the Wallabies next week. Scrum and line out seemed up to scratch, but pace of recycling must improve. Still, we have done Oz twice in the last few years and we can do them again. Believe!

  17. We qualified. No serious injuries. More belief building in the team. That’s 100% success for me right there. What a relief! Well done lads!

    …I can’t remember breathing much and watched most of that from between my fingers.

    Looking on – next match the Ozzies. Around about now would be a good time for the lad’s performance to start to peak a little?

    Has BVC just been holding his cards very tight to his chest all this time?…is it now, in the QFs, that we might see an ace in the hole?

  18. Anyone want to comment on the performance of the match-winning captain? Cotter was singing his praises following the match. Is there any doubt he remains our best scrum half now?

    1. Laidlaw put in a true captain’s performance. Kept a cool head, made the game winning decisions and took it on to bag the match winning try. I can only remember one box kick too, and it was a pretty good one.

    2. Yeah, great performance still infuriated me from time to time taking an age at the base, took a few snipes himself and was effective. Just still not sure if he is the best scrum half through, I see the scrum half as responsible for securing the ball at the Base, setting the forwards up for attacks and zipping it out to 10 as fast as humanly possible. Laidlaw doesn’t do that, he is more of a 9/10 playmaker which is understandable seeing as he has played 10 too, but I will always fundamentally disagree with his play style.

      Scotland have struggled for years I think with captains. The captain should be nailed on absolutely no doubt over him being the best at his position. Look at the other big teams. I don’t think we have had that luxury since Jason white was in his prime. Laidlaw has questions, Al kellock was an outstanding captain for both Glasgow and Scotland but was he the best lock, no. Going back to Mike Blair, people (including me) argued Cusiter or Lawson (whatever happened to him by the way) was a better SH.

      The problem is he has an excellent rugby brain which is invaluable in a relatively inexperienced side and no one else has really stuck their hand up to challenge him, pyrgos can be good but seems to blow hot and cold. SHC hasn’t really been given a chance yet.

    3. I still do not think Laidlaw is the best scrum half. Where I was in the stadium (near to the pitch for the Seymour try, there was more than one shout for Pyrgos by midway through the second half, along with other more general comments like ‘ffs wake up’ and ‘this is not a warm up’. Laidlaw’s distribution was certainly too slow at times and particularly near their try line, it almost seemed like he was waiting for the defence to set before deciding to pass. Now maybe this is because he was instructed not to give the Samoans the benefit of broken play, and to lure the penalties, which would also explain why our backs generally struggled. I.e. The game plan was to win this one by the forwards and boot. But it was frustrating as hell.

      The problem is that I have to admit he keeps the scoreboard ticking over and that he snuck over for a try well. That said, he missed kicks he should not have if that is why he is there. And we’d be looking at them if his questionable decision (on an expected value not outcome orientated view) to take the scrum had gone otherwise.

      So, possibly the best kicker, and the encumbant captain (pretty opaque from a fan’s perspective but you assume VC sees that he brings something to the dressing room, as sometimes on the pitch the Glasgow boys just look a bit irritated with him) and until Russell makes the kicking role his own it is difficult to see Pyrgos or SHC getting the nod. Of course, Russell probably won’t get the chance to take kicking duties until Laidlaw is out the side so there’s the problem there.

      As for better pure scrum halfs, sniping, running and passing, there’s the two just mentioned as well as Cusiter and Blair who quite honestly you’d probably pick first in the playground.

      I’d love if he proved me and the other doubters wrong and took the team past Australia!

      1. P.s. Nel was man of the match, but Ritchie Gray and Hardie were close. And huge cheers for Strauss in place of Wilson. Also for someone who gets so much criticism Denton is a real influence.

  19. Well we won.
    Samoa conceded 19 penalties and no one binned.
    We completed 69% of tackles. That is an even more shocking stat.
    Plenty to work on but having seen the Aus defence you wonder where our scoring opportunities will come from.
    Here’s to a monsoon next Sunday!
    Good job lads, give those tackle bags hell this week. But above all thank god we made it out the pool.

    1. OUr takling was disappointing, though I think some credit has to go to Samoa for that. They attacked with speed, verve and power. Not easy to defend. Australia’s defence tonight was a masterclass. Wales did well to stifle their attack. Don’t reckon we’ll get much change out of this Oz side, but I’m kind of hoping for a more 10 to 15 involvement and a bit of entertainment in that game. It really was 9 and forwards (+ Seymour inteception(ish) king) tonight.

    2. That is a woeful tackle completion rate TBH and should see the defensive coach told that his services are no longer required at the end of the WC.

      1. Agree to some extent but way Samoans were playing made it hard for tacklers. They were pretty much running at us in twos shoulder to shoulder so there was a LOT of unintentional blocking that wasn’t picked up on.
        Looking at individuals Wilson was worst culprit in forwards. Only made two tackles all game.
        Matt Taylor has been great defence coach otherwise. Harsh to call him out on that one game

  20. I don’t think we should underestimte this victory. The Samoa we played tonight were a team that played well above their tournament level so far, and more akin to the team that many outside this blog predicted to go through ahead of this. It was a good win, hard earned. Credit is due to Laidlaw, who steered us through the last quarter with true leadership and awareness. Help ma boab we need to sort out our restarts though.

  21. I know this is hopelessly unrealistic, but is there any way we can influence the pundits and commentators involved with Scottish games? E.g. not HS or Kenny Logan. The latter in particular is just thick as a plank, and his best – and incomprehensible – attribute by a mile, is Gabby.

  22. In the second half Nel gave a world XV worthy performance. Hardie and the back three rescued us countless times. Laidlaw banished my doubts. Fraser Brown ran around like a man possessed when he came on, I winced at one of his handoffs. Some great individual performances in there, surrounded by innacuracy and mediocrity. Russell lacked his usual spark, largely down to the lack of space he had to operate in. Scott and Bennett were lacklustre. Denton was rubbish, his only touch in the first half was a knock on. Real mixed bag from Wilson, stupid yellow card. On the subject of yellow cards, why didn’t Samoa receive the 5 or so they deserved for high tackles and accumulating offences? Refs at this World Cup are so focused on the “neck roll” that they’ve forgotten what a high tackle is.

    1. Oh and Swinson played well when he came on. Looks like he’s done a Picamoles, lost weight and gained power.

    2. I posted earlier in the ‘history’ section, I agree with most of this post with the exception of Denton , whom I regularly and deservedly knock. I feel that he played very well yesterday , despite the howlers.

      The Samoa penalty count was far too high and this disrupted our play. There was no cohesion in the backs and this may be a contributory factor.

      JP was much too lenient and should have carried through his warning and issued cards to Samoa.

      Because of this obvious factor, I think the Bookmakers prediction of a Scotland win by 13 point was about the true difference in the sides.

      Our perfomances to date have all had a poor first half and in particular the second quarter of the game. Today, I thought we managed that phase better against quality opposition. Still a poor first half, no denying that, but for me they have improved the 2nd quarter shortfall. By that I mean if is getting closer to being adequate.

      Areas of vulnerabity remain restarts and the first half.

  23. Scotland through to quarters against Aussies,how do you think you will do? Only beaten tier 2 teams so far!!

  24. The differences between players and teams are built up to ‘silly proportions’ by eulogising media. There won’t be much to choose between the teams next week, so as long as no silly tries are given away we have a chance.
    The difficult areas we already know about. The scrum, the breakdown and containing Foley and Falau.
    The Oz scrum did look very strong against Wales and England, so we’ll have to be up for that confrontation.
    Oz will play Pocock and Hooper, so the breakdown will be difficult. Play both Hardie and Cowan to compensate?
    Falau looked as if he picked up an injury yesterday, so maybe we’ll get lucky with that one. Foley has been very impressive so far. He is very sharp, very precise and in great form. His kicking is also immaculate, so we can’t give away penalties.
    We know where Scotland are poor, but can we change anything by next week? Restarts for exmple. No one appears to be surrounding the ball looking for reboubnds. Bad, bad, bad.
    For me, the forwards need to give our backs some quick ball or we lose. Same goes for Laidlaw. Quick service is what we need, so no ‘waiting for a bus’ at behind the ruck. Parity at the set piece won’t be enough. Out backs were ‘invisible’ against Samoa, and their defensive lines were punctured continually. We desperately need to get them involved as an attacking force, and get on the front foot.
    I’m interested to hear how people think we can win the game next week?

    1. If we’re to beat the Aussies, we have to be ferocious at the breakdown. We haven’t had a good game at the breakdown so far in the competition, partly I suspect as we were deliberately sending as few men into each ruck as possible in order to flood the defensive line. This allowed the giant South African pack to shunt us backwards at every collision, but it also restricted the space that their back 3 had to run at us round the corners. There’s clearly a balance to be struck, but if we are to win, we have to turn over some ball, be that in collisions, or taking the Wallabies on at their own game in the breakdown. Greg Laidlaw has to bring his kicking boots as well. He can’t be missing penalties, as keeping the scoreboard ticking over is crucial.

    2. I just hope we are keeping our long range penalty capability hidden for the knockout stages. Regular posters will know I feel we are under using the kicking talent of Stuart Hogg and in particular Mark Bennett who can kick from halfway and land them.

      Samoa’s penalty count was high and arguable could have been higher. I think other referees may have taken more control than JP. Samoa were always going to come out hard and push the boundaries. Scotland did not settle till the second half.

      If the opposition know that Scotland can nail them from that range we may see less penalties and allow our backs to settle and run their routines. We know the Glasgow players know each other well and this familiarity is a benefit .

      So Vern , If you are reading, get Bennet out practicing after dinner.

  25. Thank god we won.

    Truth is Samoa had nothing to lose. Their style of play was paid off when the 50/50 pass landed but cost them dearly when it didn’t.

    Our scrum looked strong.

    To beat Australia we have to learn how to protect the ball. Every time a player goes into a tackle I squirm, knowing that the opposition has a high chance of getting the ball or a penalty.

    Australia are better than NZ for competing for the ball.

    For us to beat Australia I believe this is what we need.

    1, Rain
    2, A ref that hates players not holding their weight when competing for the ball.
    3, Hogg to play a blinder.
    4, Injuries to Australia.

    I truly believe we can beat Australia but we have to score the first points and keep the anti up.

    Cheers from NZ.

    1. Carrying the ball into the tackle other teams who are more successful than us at recycling/retention seem to go in with a man tight on the shoulder of the carrier. Impact has twice the weight/momentum and the supporter may be in position over the ball.

    2. We should pick up a few from refs who are big on players going through the gate, Pocock often slides into the ruck which gets him over the ball quickly but isn’t always straight.

  26. I think Samoa really demonstrated to us how to play the organised chaos type of game. They were accurate, powerful with the ball in hand and fast as hell. We were maybe two of those things, certainly not accurate. Our defense was in 6s and 7s whenever Samoa got a break. After watching Wales Australia, we are going to have to up the game considerably to even avoid embarrassment against Australia, they are looking seriously good, better than the kiwis IMO and have had a couple of big games compared to the kiwis relatively easy pool.

    To the folk praying for rain, I’m not sure that would help us now, in previous years yes because our defense was world class and our set piece solid, we just couldn’t score tries for love nor money. Now it’s more like the opposite, we can and do score tries but we’re a bit leaky. Throw caution to the wind go out there throw it about and give them a game, at least we will have gone down fighting rather than going down trudging through the phases to the inevitable knock on. Regardless of the result I don’t want it to be a multiple of 3.

  27. Our front five went missing from open play throughout the first half. It’s not enough nowadays to do well in the set pieces, thats the basics! The pack in general were anominous and tackled poorly. The backs have been given a hard time in a lot of the reviews, but if the forwards don’t have parity (which we didn’t through most of the first half), the backs will look cr*p. That said, matt scott was pissed all over by his opposite number, and Bennet wasn’t much better. It worries me that Dave Denton’s form seems to have totally dissappeared off a cliff.

    Massive step up needed for next week, maybe the real underdog label will get us going again. I know its better to be moaning about a narrow victory, but we scottish supporters after all!

  28. Watched the game back again today to see if my initial assessment was overly harsh but probably thought we were worse on second viewing! I was actually cringing at some of the basic errors and missed tackles. However there were some positives. Laidlaw had his best game in a Scotland jersey, although I agree with other posters than it still can take him an age to get the ball away. That said he wears his heart on his sleeve and made the right call for the scrum. That’s exactly what you need from your captain. Nel, big Ritchie and Hardie all played well, as did Brown when he came on despite ignoring one glaring overlap. Particularly disappointing for me were Scott and Denton, both struggling to make ground with ball in hand. Wilson was stupid, lucky boy not to see red and contributed very little otherwise.

    We’ve really got to start better next week. I know Samoa played well but our inability to do the basics let them get an early foothold and they grew in confidence from there. Our defence has been excellent up till now and I couldn’t believe how easily Samoa cut through us. Changes for Oz? Not convinced Hogg is fit so maybe Maitland to 15 and bring big Sean onto the wing. For me, Brown for Ford and Strauss for Wilson. We’re always hopeless as favourites so I’m pretty positive about a weeks time. Cannae wait!

  29. 9. Deal with restarts. 17 points from Samoa came as a direct results of our gross incompetence in dealing with then. Have we been negligent in our preparation? We need to spend 1 hour after every training session this week practicing them.

  30. We made our primary objective – Quarter Finals.
    Great effort – however we did it.

    Now we need to see how best to play Australia to win
    Then pick the best team to do that.

    IMHO I would have Laidlaw on the bench with Pyrgos starting (with instructions re fast tempo).
    I would also replace Wilson with Cowan, keeping Strauss on the bench.
    Otherwise no changes to the 23.

    1. Agreed, primary objective achieved. BVC will not start anyone other than Laidlaw, so we can forget that. Definitely a case for starting Cowan with Strauss on bench. In some ways, bizarrely, next weekend should be easier in that OZ will not be so unstructured. We have a big game in us let’s hope we see it next weekend.

  31. Ok – A long emotional weekend for all of us and a World Cup Quarter Final achieved. Well done to the team but if we had not achieved this dizzy height given our (easy) pool then heads would have surely rolled.
    Having re watched the game on the STV player I still have the same misgivings that I brought home from the game. We have not put in a full game against 2nd tier opposition in this competition and anyone who suggests that Samoa were not fully committed in their last games insults not only their rugby but their culture.
    If there is one team to push round the park it’s Samoa.Tactical kicking,snipping runs and going wide to move the huge guys about.Did no one watch their game against Japan!! Still no idea what our game plan was.Not sure our wingers knew either.
    Samoa basically beat themselves with indiscipline and the inability to maintain their tempo as they played by far the better rugby.Our “Get out of Jail Card” was well played for this match.
    The Aussies will be looking forward to their semi final having watched our 4 games.
    We DO have the ability to go further if we change things. Apart from Nell in the front row and Hardy at 7 nothing has really moved on since the 6 Nations where we were up against stronger opposition.
    IMHO the problem lies at the top.This is not a GL slagging blog and there is no N in my name just in case some may think this may not be an objective submission.
    The game should be run from 10 with 9 controlling the forwards and the defence.In our case 9 seems to try and control everything.The Captain should ideally be a forward as that is where games are won.Did anyone else pick up the poor communication within the team? Especially 9 and 10. FR and other backs looked a bit frustrated and the body language was not good.We have players that can slot kicks from 50m plus (SH,MB)so why not use them.
    My concern is that if 9 is bit of a control freak and Captain then we have issues no matter how well he plays.
    A tabloid “hero” in beating Samao by 3 points doesn’t wash in my book but it may in VC’s as he has achieved the required level of expectation.I though he was better than that and I believe that we are better than that.

  32. Due to working on Saturday I was only able to watch the game after I knew the score which saved a lot of strain on the heart. I also watched it straight after seeing Wales v Aus live. I have to agree with the comments above that Wales tried to run through 13 man Australian defence and failed so we need another route. But I do think the set piece will be ok it is the breakdown and the first 20 minutes that worry me. Against England the Australians clearly decided on a shock and awe opening to finish the game as a contest as quickly as possible. But I think they are more suited to our strengths than SA so have some foolish optimism and can’t wait. On the player performance front – thought Richie Gray was very prominent in the last quarter (the performance we have been waiting for). Also Maitland seems to be overlooked for praise as I thought he had more dynamism and belief than any other of our backs bar Seymour.

  33. Having a random poke around some Aussie media and they are not taking us lightly at all. Where in the past they might have been overconfident to the point of arrogance they seem to be treating Scotland as a credible threat who can upset them if they’re not on their game.

    1. Yes it’s a bit disconcerting but you don’t need to look very far to see the articles dismissing us as a minor annoyance

  34. So what is the game plan for Australia? No point praying for rain, for the luck of the bouncing ball or a friendly referee. Australia are playing really well and we need a plan to get the supporters excited.

    We may have parity in set piece but that will just keep the score respectable. No point in kicking it away as they are perfectly capable of running it back at us and I don’t fancy a game of ping pong.

    We’re going to have to find a way to keep the breakdown away from their back row. We’ll have to attack them in wider channels. Wales were too direct especially when they had a numbers advantage. If we can put real pressure on them then we will get penalties. We need to kick those from everywhere. Get Hogg and Bennett practicing long range efforts all week.

    Denton running off the back of set pieces in isolation wont work. Every carrier will need someone on their shoulder. Vernon might make the 23 as a midfield fetcher. Possible play with two 7s.

    We will need Japanese levels of speed and precision in the backs. Time to unveil and execute some new moves.

    We need everyone to turn up at the start and play out of their skins till then end. Whatever Stern Vern usually says at half time needs said before kick-off. Smelling salts for the tight five, red bull for the back row, valium for the backs.

    We are underdogs, we like that, bodies on the line, we can make a game of this!

    1. I think you’re right. Hard to know what to do against these guys. Great team.

      I think we have to go for the typical Scotland game plan against Australia. They eat up structured play as was shown by their frankly heroic goal line stand when down to 14/13 men. Wales have been playing that attritional nonsense for so long that they have lost all ability to attack out side with pace.

      If we can show the level of commitment to defence that we have in recent times and couple that with a desire to attack hard with our backs, I think we might have a shot. I’d probably go for Cowan and Hardie because we need to be counteracting the threat of Pocock and Hooper, plus we do much better of quick ball than we do slow.

      The other important thing is that we need Hogg to finally tune in. We are going to see some ‘heavy shelling’ from the Aussies because their entire back line is good at competing in the air and we have shown ourselves to be pretty poor at exploiting that. Hogg’s an incredible talent but his propensity to go missing or suffer from brain fade is a little worrying. Hate to say it but I think our best team just now has Maitland at 15, Lamont on one wing and Seymour on the other. Maybe it’s just more that he’s not had much of a chance to shine in this tournament yet.

      As I type that, I realise how mental it sounds so I fully expect a kicking from a few on here.

      1. Australia were strangely off their game under the high ball against Wales. Maybe a couple of early testers with Seymour chasing.

        Australia looked vulnerable to the choke tackle. If they cant get the ball to ground then their breakdown capabilities don’t come in to play.

        I think Hogg has to play in this one. We’re going to need a little bit of something exceptional to win this and he’s our best chance of delivering that.

        We’ve got some Australians in our back room staff. Hopefully that can spot some chinks in the Australian defence that others haven’t yet.

      2. The high ball did look like a weakness for Australia, but we have not been as good as the Welsh at challenging for the high ball so this is worth a shot but cannot be the only option.

        We also need to be working in units not as individuals. So many of the comments are about which players performed but very little about how the units in the team performed.

        The offloading game would also help counteract the brilliance of the Aussie backrow, but that needs players going in 3’s.

        I don’t see Vern making radical changes but it looked to me as if the additional mobility of Fraser Brown and Cowan would be worth seeing from the start.
        And it will need a spot of magic and some pace – so Hogg should start, but needs to sparkle.

  35. Delighted we’ve made the QFs! Rather nervy stuff- Samoa really brought their form to Newcastle, though how they avoided a yellow card, I’ll never know! Certainly lots for Scotland to work on, particularly the restarts and I think that’s the worst I’ve seen their defense the entire tournament.

    Out of curiosity, did anyone else notice the eye gouging on John Hardie as he went over for his try, and the elbow to Richie Gray’s face immediately after the high tackle on Sean Maitland?

  36. Also, thoughts on dropping Denton and playing Hardie and Cowan at 6 and 7, Strauss at 8 and Wilson on the bench?

    1. Wilson should be nowhere near the squad for the rest of the tournament after his moment of madness that was a few inches away from us probably going out of the World Cup.

      I do agree that Denton should be benched, he goes to ground far too easily and will be easy prey for the Aussie backline when they’re fresh. Strauss is more upright in contact and gives the support and extra second to get there. Agree with Cowan and Hardie both starting. Strauss at 8. Denton to come on with 20 left to hopefully run over the top of some tired players.

    2. Ross – sounds a daft idea to me, based on evidence of last 2/3 games.
      Wilson should be out of the squad (nearly a red card on Sat) and Strauss is struggling to perform at the Intl level for the moment.

    3. I’d drop Denton for Strauss. A no 8 who can’t pass like Denton, is simply one dimensional and a liability. He couldn’t catch either on Saturday.
      Strauss ‘struggling to perform at this leve;’ is still more than Denton can achieve.

    4. Good call Ross, that’s what I’d do. I’d also bring Brown in at hooker ( looks like he’ll be in anyway) for his pace and ability at the breakdown, both of which we’ll need against Australia.

  37. I suppose if I really did know how to win on Sunday, I would be a paid member of Vern’s coaching staff.
    So for what it’s worth I’d suggest.
    First, the ‘boring but necessary’ stuff. Get all, and I mean all, the basics right and at the right tempo from minute one to minute 80. Scrum, line-out, re-starts, defensive alignment and tackle engagement, and vigorous competition at the first breakdown.
    Second, up the pace of cycling from set piece and re-cycling from broken play. We are still too slow at getting it away and onwards. I’m not blaming Laidlaw for this as so much of it is about tidying and driving at set piece and the energy and body positioning of contact at breakdown.
    Third, and this depends on 80 minutes of success in the first two points, we have some players capable of doing unexpectedly (to the oppo) brilliant things and if we can get the first two right we can unleash that potential behind the scrum. I’m thinking in particular of Russell, Bennett and Hogg, all of whom are capable of moments of genius that can confound any defence.
    The fourth I suppose is psychological and maybe it should be the first actually. Along the lines of : We can win this, we have beaten them before, they know this, we know this – we WILL win this.
    Anything less in all four dimensions of play and attitude and it could be a difficult day. We on the sidelines can hope this – but the players need to believe it. And I think they will. Come on, Scotland, get in there on Sunday!

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