Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 34 – 0 Samoa

It was just what we needed, and we are back in contention, after a magnificent performance from Scotland saw them claim exactly what was required, and subject Samoa to their first ever pointless performance at the World Cup.

The opening minutes saw Scotland putting in some dominant tackles, forcing Samoa back behind the gainline, and once in possession, some nice off-loading and a sumptuous wide pass from Sam Johnson sent Darcy Graham, “The Prince of Hawick”, charging into Samoan territory.

Although Hogg (“The King of Hawick”?) was held up in the tackle with the try line in sight, Samoa’s exit kept the game in their half. Samoan replacement Josh Tyrell, on for captain Jack Lam as he went for an HIA, tackled Laidlaw without the ball, and the veteran scrum-half added another 3-points to his impressive career-haul.

In the opening quarter, the humid conditions we were expecting saw a number of slips and handling errors, with Scotland happy to put boot to ball in order to keep Samoa deep, negating their dangerous strike-runners.

But it was all very stop-start due to these handling errors, even Finn Russell, owner of some of the finest hands in world rugby, was struggling to keep the ball in his puppet-master mitts.

One nice move off the back of a scrum got Scotland deep, but the move faltered again with that last pass not quite being executed well enough.

Then came the magic. Maitland leapt like a salmon in mating season to claim Laidlaw’s box-kick on the right hand-side. Scotland spun the ball to attack down the left, and then Finn Russell, with penalty advantage, launched a sensational cross-field kick straight into the bread-basket of Maitland to claim his 13th try in international colours.

Gilchrist spilled the restart, but when Samoa themselves knocked on and play became fractured, Scotland countered to devastating effect.

Russell was again the catalyst, stepping between two tight-five forwards and passing out the back of the hand to set Ritchie free. He passed to Laidlaw, who bounced off Nanai-Williams’ tackle attempt, and eventually realised he was free to take it home himself, whilst scouting for a team-mate to pass to.

Drop goals seem to be back in fashion this World Cup, and Stuart Hogg decided to enter himself into the “Drop Goal of the Tournament” competition alongside Lopez and Patchell, with an absolute peach from Samoa’s 10m line. 20-0 with only a couple of minutes to go in the first half.

Scotland had a chance to further extend their lead before the end of the half when Samoa kicked the restart out on the full. Gordon Reid an early replacement for the injured Alan Dell, earned the plaudits from his teammates when Samoa’s scrum crumbled. Hogg thumped it into the corner, Samoa conceded another two penalties when trying to stop mauls, but on the third attempt they managed to repel the attack.

Mission status: Primary objective: Win the damn game – progressing well. Secondary objective: score 4 tries – 50% complete.

Half-time: 20-0

An early moment of concern early in the second half came to an abrupt end when Samoa were penalised for an illegal clear-out, and when they threatened again, they lost control when in the Scotland 22. To compound matters for the Pacific Islanders, flanker Christopher Vui was then pinged for an offside tackle on Jonny Gray, allowing Hogg to thump it to halfway.

A dangerous shoulder-to-shin challenge on Gilchrist gave Scotland another penalty just 10m from the Samoan line right in the middle of the pitch, which was surprisingly not reviewed for the possibility for a yellow.

During that stoppage in play, Gilchrist himself was replaced by Cummings, and captain Stuart McInally, who was 100% for his arrows and had looked good in the loose, replaced by Fraser Brown.

Scotland, knowing they needed tries, opted for the scrum. Another penalty went to another scrum, but Finn’s final ball just had a bit too much zip for Graham to handle to hand Samoa the line-out.

Samoa went long on the throw, and great line-speed forced a pass back into goal and a scuffed kick to touch. Brown went close to scoring, but Samoa were gifting out penalties like it was Christmas. Winger Ed Fidow had entered the maul at the side, and after a chat with TMO Graeme Hughes, Pascal Gauzerre yellow carded Feddow and awarded a penalty try.

Russell and Hogg were kicking intelligently and accurately. Another long-thrown Samoan line-out near their own line was snaffled, but Gordon Reid knocked on agonisingly close to the try-line when it appeared that Samoa had done illegal work at the breakdown.

In the 65th minute, entered Duncan Taylor for Sam Johnson and, more excitedly for me, even though I love Super Dunc, George “Horneito” Horne. You’re 27-0 points to the good, there’s a tiring defence and you want another score, it seems the wise move. (We’re also just one cat short of a super-rave with this line-up.)

The biggest threat to the secondary objective was now the clock. Samoa got themselves a penalty deep in Scotland’s 22, but inexplicably kicked it out in the goal-area, and another chance came Scotland’s way.

And finally, all objectives achieved. Maitland was all set to score his second, using the conditions to slide into the corner, until Fidow, already on a yellow after preventing Brown from scoring try number three, decided that a double-knee drop was an appropriate way to stop him. A despicable action, which led to his second yellow, and a second penalty try.

The last of the cats, Adam Hastings replaced the alpha-cat, the imperious Finn Russell, so we didn’t go “Full-cat Sonar festival”, but that could be the only personal complaint of the match. So much better than last week, better aggression from the reshuffled pack, and a massive swing in the points difference due to keeping Samoa scoreless, could be of huge significance.  

SRBlog MOTM: It would be too easy to give it to Finn Russell or the clinical Sean Maitland, Jonny Gray was given the official nod, but I’m awarding it to Jamie Ritchie. From the off he led a much improved defensive effort, hitting his tackles and breakdowns with gusto. A few weeks ago on the podcast I said he’d made himself undroppable with his level of performances, and so it remains. A potential legend in the making.

Referee: Pascal Gauzerre (FFR)

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133 Responses

  1. A much more upbeat report compared to some of the comment by fans post match.

    You can’t ask for much more than what they delivered and the nilling may well prove to be significant. It was all a bit nervy chasing the bonus point though.

    Completely agree about Ritchie I think he is potentially world class.

    I did turn the volume down on my smart phone when a colleague came into my office to ask about something. Unfortunately I got the direction wrong and turned it up to full. Said colleague was highly amused.

    1. Really? I’ve not had a look at any forums yet, but I don’t see what complaints anyone could have. Tricky conditions, opposition with some dangerous players, but very professionally handled. That kick from Finn for the first try… be it by hand or boot that man’s passing is sniper-accurate. Might have forgotten Darcy’s a bit wee with one pass, but otherwise pretty handy. Still feel Hogg’s maybe trying a bit too hard to go himself, got isolated once or twice when trying to charge from deep and nearly turned over. Some of his kicking from hand was spot-on though.

  2. Agreed. Jamie Ritchie was setting a standard & he seems to be there every time. I had to listen to the last 15 mins driving to the airport which resulted in a wrong turn – probably not advisable. Will catch up tonight. I was trying to keep the faith but what a bloody relief! Kept them to 0 as well. Any word on Dell?

    1. Hopefully we’ll hear an official update soon, at first I thought it was just an HIA.
      The Offside Line will maybe have an update from the post-match press conference if there’s an early diagnosis, otherwise we’ll mention anything we learn on podcast tomorrow.

  3. A solid performance but in reality, if had been anything less after the Ireland game we would have been asking serious questions. Good to see some of the players from last week, eg Gilchrist, play with a bit of a rocket up their arses and also great that we came out mostly unscathed.

    The old guard of Barclay, Seymour, Taylor etc will likely be given a shot at redemption against Russia but I expect the xv for Japan to be very similar to today’s starting line. I can only hope that the level of intensity is maintained for the rest of the world cup.

  4. Excellent performance. I can’t disagree with any of the report and the tone was definitely set early by Bradbury, Gray and Nel. Jamie Ritchie was was different class and looks like he has filled out a bit without losing any mobility. Maitland had a great game and Russell wasn’t on top form but set up three tries.

    The first thing we need to improve is our play from 5m-10m. Laidlaw needs to have a serious think about what he is doing as he killed us there a few times in the first half. Darcy Graham wasn’t great but will get the chance to play himself into form against Russia. Kinghorn might get the call for the Japan game to go up against the short winger Ireland successfully targeted.

    The main thing is the knicker wetters can keep calm for a week or two.

    1. 3 different posts about our attacking from close in. Obviously keeping up the pace will not let defence set but occasional reset needed to avoid someone being isolated. We, in contrast to other teams, seem to get stuck in slow round the corner pick and goes. We need more variation with scrum half varying distribution with some out to in runners,eg Cummings v France. Is it Laidlaw with his arm waving or also the forwards settling for this. Seems something we could improve quickly…especially with Horne as our number 1 scrum half!

  5. Seemed very difficult conditions. Much much better than last week, dominant back row tackling against a big strong Samoa. 2 absolutely world class kicks, Russell’s cross kick & Hogg’s DG set the tone for the 2nd Quarter. One stonewall penalty try YC should have been 2 when a Samoan kicked the ball out of Gordie Reid hands when he was about to score. Lovely Russell break seemed to somewhat spook Laidlaw (hadn’t been in this much space for years) but a helpful dunt from a Samoan helped him over. Another penalty try, this time a warranted RC. Job done.

    1. Arguably should have been four penalty tries, including a maul that was moving at pace towards the Samoan line in first-half injury time before being collapsed one metre out. That seemed to me the definition of ‘a try would probably have been scored’.

      1. Agreed. The ill discipline of the Samoans was crazy. I thought he was very lenient on them during that period at the end of the first half. The Gordy Reid incident I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for, it was pretty subtle but I might have expected the TMO to say something. What odds do you think you would have got on our top try scorer for the tournament being Pascal Gauzere?

    2. Ive seen better handling in scottish winters….so that says alot of how bad the conditions were. It really just looked like 2 teams playing a full contact sport inside an actual stadium size sauna.

      Also, dont know why the Samoans were upset at comments about the legalities of their game style?? They absolutely looked ill disciplined and often a ‘dirty’ team.

  6. Everybody was dropping the ball like it was a bar of soap in the first half, then up steps Blade Thomson on a Samoan restart and catches the ball clean as a whistle above his head Aussie Rules style. I like the guy.

  7. OK, that performance stopped the rot and may have settled nerves. It was a steady game against stuffy opposition who didn’t get out of first gear, and probably the right tactical approach. Against Russia – more of the same – play with cool heads and a BP win is realistic; but speed, accuracy and determination will be needed in abundance for the Japenese match. As an aside: closed roof, humidity, state of playing surface; introduced an element of lottery to the game for both sides . Should a rugby match be played in such conditions?

      1. As far as I’ve read, the tournament organisers made the decision to play all games under a closed room at Misaki – presumably to avoid the kind of nonsense we get when teams can’t agree on keeping the roof of the Principality. I can see their point in avoiding arguments, but there were points in that game where they might have been catching a greased pig in a mud pit.

  8. Given the context that was a fantastic result. However there was something strangely unconvincing about it. We undoubtedly played the conditions well and there were some excellent performances, especially in the forwards. The back row gave us go forward and Gilchrist was much better but Jonny Gray just goes to ground every time he gets the ball, except when he ran backwards in the first half. The centres were poor again, Johnson had a shocker and Taylor wasn’t much better when he came on. Fagerson is a disaster , what has happened to that boy. In summary you could say it was a thoroughly professional performance, almost Ireland/ Wales like. I’m concerned though in 2 games our backs simply don’t look incisive.Where has it all gone Gregor.

    1. When he ran backwards it was because he was going to pass but had to stop because of an offside Samoan. We got the penalty. Gray had a great game.

      Fagerson was fine as well. His turnover penalty was down to Gauzere not reffing the previous three rucks meaning he had no support.

      1. I thought Fagerson was fine too.
        He just needs gametime to get himself into test mode.
        He adds alot in the loose…which is of value considering our loose heads aren’t great. Dell is far too soft even bulked up. Ive often thought we should play him at LH and Nel at TH…not the time now to experiment with that tho obviously. He isn’t going to improve if he doesn’t get the game time. He should have played more in preseason.

        As good as Ritchie was…Bradbury really impressed me…he hasn’t played much rugby for a while and came right in and played very well.
        He has huge world class potential imo. A natural ball buster…with the pace that B Vunipola doesn’t have.

  9. See, we can do it.
    Still a job to qualify but if you keep winning and getting the points then pressure pressure pressure mounts on the other sides.
    And pressure can do funny things….

  10. Those conditions were ridiculous for good rugby. Virtually all the errors were down to the ball slipping around like a bar of soap in the tub.
    I thought Scotland deservedly won that…and the conditions favored Samoa more so than Scotland.
    The thing I liked most about that performance from Scotland is that the attitude was right this time. They HAVE to have that same attitude here on in. They HAVE to be consistently fired up and focussed. They are a fraction of the team when they deviant from that. I also liked that they varied the territorial , kicking and passing tactics … especially in the 1st half. Its just smarter rugby than what they have been doing a lot of recently. It took the game away from Samoa before they could get started. Had the conditions been more conducive to passing rugby this would have been a blowout victory by the end of the 1st half.
    Several players who I have consistently berated recently stood up in this match… notably
    Gray, Gilchrist (though I though we improved at lock when Cummings was brought on) and Hogg.
    I thought though that the back row was outstanding. Bradbury made a huge difference breaking the gain line and his tackling ..Ritchie was relentless..and Thompson worked tirelessly combined with some excellent breaks across the gain line. Madness to not start with these 3 against Japan!
    Laidlaw gave everything he had to that game.. he was important.
    Reid… what he lacks in rugby fitness and finesse …he more than makes up for in heart.

  11. I’d say it’s obvious that Bradbury should have been in the squad and in fact starting games from the beginning. Other than that, it’s a shame that Thomson and Jamie Ritchie (and also Barclay and Wilson) don’t give us the power in the back row that the top teams have, and we’ll really miss Watson. Fraser Brown much better than McInally, and should be in the starting lineup IMO.

    1. Thomson has plenty power and Ritchie looks to have beefed out. Back row was immense today. I think they compliment each other really well. Times up for Wilson and Barclay unfortunately. I expect both to start against Russia but then back to todays back row for Japan.

      Looked tough out there today.

    2. I am more confident in McInally at the line out. Fagerson was fine in the scrum, the ref called it the wrong way. He brings better balance in the front row than Berghan.

  12. What separates teams equal on points at the end of the group? I assume it’s points difference, if so that 34-0 did Scotland a power of good. We are 17 points worse off than Japan at the moment and with Russia to come could easily go into the final match with a superior point differential. Given the very distinct chance of finishing on 14 or 15 points and equal with Japan it might really count.
    Thought the back row was excellent today, a really handy combination with Blade really looking the part.

    1. Winner of the head to head then points difference. Not sure what happens if three teams who have each beaten one of the teams all end up on equal points though?

      So if we end up with:
      Ireland beat us
      Japan beat Ireland
      We beat Japan

      And we’re all on the same points what actually happens, it makes my head hurt.

      All I know is we need to score the maximum number of points. Our capitulation to Ireland put us straight away on the back foot so we really need to thrash Russia to get back in it.

      Or pray for storm whatever it’s called and laugh uncontrollably if Ireland go out because it rained!

    2. Head to head if it’s just 2 teams, but if we all end up on 15 points then it goes to points difference next I think.

  13. Now I’ve calmed down (had a few odd looks in the office). It was a far more nervy affair than a 34-0 score line suggests. The win was never in doubt but the requirement for the BP made it very stressful and despite what they all said before the match clearly played on the players minds.

    Our tactics were spot on, Samoan discipline was woeful, they were their own worst enemies and some of the errors they made were laughable even by our error making standards. Set piece was very good, hope Dell is ok and Nel gets a rest before Japan.

    Centres were quite quiet, especially Johnson, only think I really remember him doing was knocking on. Harris was probably the pick out of the three, straightened up well a few times and made good ground. Still a few too many me me mees from Hogg, it would be so much more effective if he threw a last minute pass, you can see the opposition all watching him but he takes it into contact too much.

    I would expect wholesale changes for Russia, more because of the turnaround time for Japan than anything else. I think we’ll see Hastings, both Horne’s and Kinghorn starting. Probably Greeg and possibly Russell on the bench (is there all three cats at the rave potential?)

    One think I very much enjoyed was watching the match with headphones on, can hear so much more of the ref and player chat, “Jonny where you going?” from Greeg was my personal favourite as he went for a wee canter in completely the wrong direction.

    1. Back row of Bradbury, Ritchie & Thompson. Outstanding. Have to start against Japan!
      Locks stood up. Again Cummings looks a starter to me. A lock with actual pace, power and handling.
      Harris played pretty well I thought.
      Johnson and Graham tried hard but didn’t have the best of games.
      Maitland had a shaky start but got into the game. Hogg had a decent game.
      Above all though the attitude was right this time…. our problems have mainly been created by a lack of consistentcy in that regard.
      Some try line fever in the 2nd half will need to fixed for Japan match especially.
      Conditions were horrible.

      We need to keep playing a style that switches the tactics and point of attack. It suits us…and Samoa couldn’t compete when we did that.

      1. Aye would pretty much agree with that. I said in an other comment I thought Bradbury was awesome in the first half but went a bit missing in the second, by no means bad but just less of him, he is prone to that which is a shame because he is immense when he’s on the boil.

        Gray was decent, not sure about man of the match decent but at least played like he had a bit of fire in his belly for a change.

  14. Job done. Surely a BP win over Russia sets up a huge game against Japan. same team for Japan though losing Dell would be a worry. Berghan in for Fagerson.

    As one of the few to defend Harris I feel vindicated. Watched Newcastle a few times and he’s strong and athletic, a very effective tacker. Looks deceive, he hits hard. Jamie Ritchie has only ever played well in this team and the back row spots going forward should be between the 3 that played today plus Watson and maybe M.Fagerson. Feel much better with the big bruiser Bradbury in there, not many opponents will overpower him.

    Some selections for Russia seem obvious. Kinghorn, Seymour, Taylor, P.Horne, Barclay, Wilson, Toolis, Cummings, Berghan, Fagerson will be fine. Others not so obvious – I suspect Brown will start and not Turner. Surely G.Horne starts and not Pyrgos. A question mark for me is Russell, I won’t be surprised if he starts and brought off the second we have the 4th try.

    1. Harris was excellent today. He’s growing into the international set-up at just the right time. Disappointed by Johnson but in slippy conditions like that it must be pretty hard being the first man out from Finnsania.

      Maitland showed his class today. Total rolls royce of a player.

    2. With such a short turnaround it has to be pretty much a second 15 for Russia – I would do this and put a few key players on the bench, rather than the other way round.

      I have to say I thought all our centres were anonymous today, didn’t see much special from Harris that a few people seem to have suggested.

      I would pretty much have todays team for Japan – I would start Cummings and drop Fagerson completely but that’s all.

      It does leave us with a reasonable amount of experience for Russia at least.

      1. I generally agree but think Russell might be the exception as his replacement is a potential bombscare from everything i’ve seen. 4 tries by half time is very realistic then get him off, is fly half that physically demanding a position anyway and instruct him to not carry in to any contact.

        I wouldn’t start any of Pyrgos, Turner or Hastings.

      2. Russell needs the rest and we can’t risk him against Russia. Hastings needs the experience and Russia are poor. It is a good game to let him develop. They lost to Jersey. We need the best 23 we have to be as rested as possible for Japan so use the b team they are there for these games!

    3. Didn’t think Fagerson was that bad today. When he came on into a scrum and went straight down I thought here we go again (not in those exact words) but after that he wasn’t too bad.

    4. If Dell doesnt make it ..there’s a fair chance Berghan goes to the bench to back up LH with Fagerson the bench TH.

  15. I am happy, but also feel we were a bit lucky…Samoa were a rabble in the end and discipline let them down. I don’t think we’d have got the calls we did vs Japan…

    1. Samoa also got off with quite a few things! To be fair so did we, I thought Jamie Ritchie in particular was borderline in at the side at a few rucks but he got away with it and that’s the kind of play you want from a 7. He may have been ok but I think on a different day or with a different ref he would have pinged.

    2. You make your own luck at this level. Samoan discipline disappeared because they were frustrated by Scotland.
      The first quarter was the key to this game, for me. We hit them behind the gain-line, competed at the rucks, kicked well and the set-piece was flawless. OK so we were only 3-0 up but Samoa hadn’t really been in our half.
      We didn’t let them play and waited for our chances. To take from the old adage about forwards/backs:- Defence wins you games, Attack by how much.
      Seriously happy and relieved that we’ve shown the world we can play. Onwards and upwards.

  16. At least we’re in the world cup now. Job done. Get the BP against Russia and put ourselves in the position where it’s in our control vs Japan. This was exactly the result we needed. Great outcome from a potentially very tricky game.

  17. Defensive line speed was good today, and just the right side of the offside line. Reminded me of how Wales put attackers under pressure.

    Some thundering, momentum-stopping tackles early on affected Samoa‘s confidence and playbook execution.

    A combination of accident (Watson) and need for change after the Ireland debacle might just have thrown up our first choice back row combination. Very impressive display by that unit, who I think played the whole 80 minutes unchanged? Outstanding show of fitness in greenhouse conditions.

    If we can recreate that physicality and intensity from the off against Japan, we can throw them off their game plan too.

    Quite a bit to work on – a few too many floppy Hail Mar passes, and finding ways to score from multiple phases on the opponents’ try line for instance- but overall a proper Tier One side Test performance against a side who may be ranked 16th in the world but are no mugs.

    Good comeback after the bitter disappointment of that Ireland defeat.

  18. Tough calls on Russia team – obviously BP a must but we really don’t want to play Japan we injuries to key players or an exhausted team. Biggest calls will be in back row and back three as we don’t have the numbers there to give everyone in the starting XV a day off.

    1. Backs for Russia I’d go:
      15: Kinghorn
      14: Seymour
      13: Taylor/Harris
      12: Pete Horne
      11: Graham
      10: Hastings
      9: Horneito

      Horne-Stings have shown that they can tear it up with pace that Tier 2s can’t handle (The Thumping in Resistencia and an incredible performance at the Liberty 2 seasons ago to demolish Ospreys) Big Horne, for all his doubters, is a great reader of the game and can offer sound advice as second playmaker.

      Dell’s injury situation will obviously play a factor in front-row, then I say Toolis and Cummings at lock, back-row we save Ritchie for Japan. 6: Wilson, 7: Barcs, 8: Blade or Bradbury.

    2. Id play Wilson, Barclay and Brown @ 7 Turner @ 2 v Russia. Lots of experience and good enough to beat them. Also gives Brown some practice at 7 incase need there v Japan.

      1. I would be concerned at overexposing the hookers to an injury likely situation. Only one on the pitch at a time. We know Brown can do it if needed.Just my opinion for what it is worth.

      2. Bradbury has been injured for a while and hasn’t had alot of game time last few months therefore should be relatively fresh, Thomson as well actually hasn’t had that much game time due to injuries so hasn’t been overplayed really. Even with a short turnaround v Japan 40 mins each should still leave enough in the tank for the game against Japan (as long as Wilson and Barclay don’t get injured).

  19. I thought the five players coming in made a real difference today, we were far more dynamic in attack and defence. Ritchie was MOM for me and I was also very impressed with Harris. Would like to see more of Cummings, no doubt he’ll get a start against Russia.

  20. Job done , cannot complain , they managed the clock very well, 1 try each quarter and pinned Samoa in their own half.

    What to work on : Made nothing of the yellow and other sides may not give away so many penalties.

    Will all these matches have that level of humidity ?

  21. Job done but an edgy affair and certainly not something to write home about..
    3 things that were particularly frustrating:
    1) not being able to get over the line or even look like getting over the line from 5 meters against tier 2 opposition – the forward rumbles were so pedestrian – what do tier 1s do against us that means they always score ! Ireland crossed 2nd rumble! We had no little moves/ angles and if we had we would have got a try on half time and really demoralised them
    2) falling asleep when the oppos are on a yellow! Aah just when we needed that 4th try , they go down to 14 men and rather than stepping up to bag that bonus point we had 10 mins of down time… where was the captain to get the team up?!
    3) attacking centre moves… blimey o riley..we have spent so much time pontificating about our centres it seams we didn’t have time to plan any moves … from a 5 m scrum we somehow threw a 1st phase ball into touch… and even if Darcy had caught it _ his ribs would have been rearranged… I love Sam and the defence was great today but nothing in attack…
    But phew 5 points and we can improve… thought back row were all excellent and line out was best for a long time… Maitland, Thompson, Richie, Bradbury and Harris were my standouts

    1. To be fair on point 1…I thought the conditions, and the fact they were handling a bar of soap, impacted their decision making when they got into good position.
      If conditions had been normal we would have won this match and a bonus point by half time…I feel certain of that. I lost count of the great looking moves that went pear shaped because of loss of footing or the ball slipping from hand.

    2. Unless we punish a team when they go down to 14 and put points on the board, sides will continue to infringe :

      1) The ref might miss it !
      2) He might just award a penalty
      3) He might give me a yellow but…
      4) They don’t score against 14 men anyway.

  22. Just caught up on the game. When was the last time we just did a nice professional job with sensible tactics. We can actually do it. This is a terrible Samoa side though. Ritchie is exceptional. That is our best back row without Watson. This World Cup is going to be ruined by the conditions though. Hoggs drop goal is good to have in our arsenal.

    1. Disagree…that was not a terrible Samoa team…and many of them have played a fair bit for them…even from 2015.
      Our tactics were right for change…we mixed things up (territorial, passing and kicking) and Samoa couldn’t compete with us doing that. We also, I felt, defended far better than we have against them in both 2015 RWC and 2017 at Murray. They looked lost in the end.
      They hadn’t played against that back row of ours before and they got whipped.

      1. Argue away but your wrong. They scraped through the repechage, are 15th in the world, have received 1 active and two retrospective reds, in the last 3 years have only beaten Germany, Russia and Tonga once losing the rest.

  23. Good result. Think we have our back row to play against Japan now. Samoa were poor but I think we made them look poor. We might have got 2 penalty tries but they seemed pretty cast iron. Ritchie, Bradbury and Thompson were excellent and really took the fight to Samoa.
    Have to say Hogg’s dropgoal and Laidlaw’s try were the highlights. I thought Laidlaw was going to screw up but fair play he saw the line eventually and got over. Japan beating Ireland really has turned things on their head. Ireland will qualify not so sure we will. I’m not convinced we’ll score 4 tries against Japan. Still it looks like being a decider, assuming we don’t blow it against Russia. Surely not?

    1. There is a hype train on Japan similar to RWC ’15when they beat SA … we beat them and beat them well fair ‘n’ square….so we’ll see.
      They are the home team so they obviously have that going for them ..its an advantage. Im not not sold on them being a better team than us. Of course if we play like we did v Ireland we are in serious trouble but if we turn up and play well …I’d say they’ll be the ones in trouble. Its never how you start.. its how you finish. The team that played against Samoa can play better ..and they’ll be a bit more gelled than they were going into Samoa.

      1. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the huge lie l of expectation – it can go either way, inspiring or suffocating. Let’s hope we can give them something early to make them doubt.

      2. They looked daunted on the opening day but I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of their rest versus ours. I don’t think we are well enough conditioned for the conditions. If we play like we did today but up a gear we should win by enough to prevent the losing BP. The problem is we are truly the away team and Japan offer much more in attack than Samoa. We should patience today and that’s key. If Hogg can keep banging DG’s over from the 10m line that won’t hurt our chances either.

      3. If we need 4 tries, Japan’s game management is easier.

        They only need to be the better team in the first half and the second half becomes a pressure cooker for us.

        The ref is Jaco Peyper. I look forward to Kevin’s stats on Mr P who is officiating Japan v Samoa. He also has England v France the day before Japan v Scotland.

        Yes, maybe I have the Tin Foil Hat on but it feels like Japan are getting all the breaks this RWC. We need to play this out a game at a time.

    2. Going by my counting if we both get BP wins in our next games then Japan will be on 14 and we will be on 10. Therefore we don’t need a BP win to go through, we just need to win and not let them get one and we we will go through by virtue of winning the head to head, if they get one we need one and if they get two were out. Only thing that could spoil that party is Ireland if we all end up on the same points. I think Ireland are in pole position due to their losing bonus against Japan, with their “hard” games past with you would expect them to walk the other 2. For a neutral it could be a cracking game!

  24. Solid tactical performance against a run down abused Samoa team. Best response I could hope for after Ireland but by no means am I happy.

    The big issue with Townsend is that we can perform well like we did there and then be awful the next game, what we need to see now is a run of consistent strong games.

    Defence & line speed was impressive, tactical kicking and a ‘plan B’ were on show. Ritchie was my MoM.

    1. Where have you been , I am pleased you have found your voice. Interesting selection for Japan, Kinghorn over Graham ? Looking to win ball in the air ?

      1. Yes. this is one area (Japan) have a weakness in. I would approach that game in a way similar to how Saracens dismantled Glasgow in the QF. Big powerful carriers & high balls, handling will be very tricky in the conditions and there line speed is to good to play our natural style with confidence.
        *** edited by moderator – please don’t use racist language. Going to assume it was an error of judgement or ignorance***

      2. Agree with Kinghorn in for the high balls and in Bradbury and Laidlaw we have found our big ball carriers who can bounce defenders off and punch holes. Ok Laidlaw isn’t big but he looked very powerful for his try, he’s obviously been in the gym. Let those 2 do the bulk of the carrying v Japan.

    2. That’s maybe a big issue that Townsend’s not fixed, but it’s a very longterm malady, not just his to own. I can’t remember us putting together a decent trauma-free run of games in the new millenium.

  25. Really delighted to see us with urgency in this heat and conditions. I never doubted our fitness in cool Scottish conditions but thought we were struggling to adapt to heat and humidity. But we can do that and now need to keep that up. Back row made a huge difference and Jamie Ritchie has made himself undroppable for the matches we need him for. Watson and Ritchie become our two bankers when fit and one other from the rest.

    Thought we were going to fall just short of the bonus but we got there in the end. One slightly worrying thing was the not looking and assuming the ball was there to pass to Mr Nobody. Maitland just threw it behind him without looking twice and we lost possession. Take the ball in and recycle. We can’t afford to throw chances to get in behind away like that. Once the game was one Brown made a break and just threw it again hoping Horne would get it and it got easily intercepted. If he had taken it to ground we were almost guaranteed a score. These moments could be crucial against Japan. They know how to score from turnover ball.

    Loved the drop goal. We must have a real threat in this area and Hogg nailed that one. Even if we don’t do another one until we have to to steal a game the other teams now know we can do it. So they have to structure enough to counteract that which is an advantage we didn’t have till that moment.

    Great day all round.

    But this was a solid win without being Harlem Globe Trotters. We have hope again.

    1. Let’s see more drop goals from Scotland. It is that kind of tactical variation which causes uncertainty in the opposition. Scotland must not be predictable on field.

    2. Drop goals may be handy for building a score against Japan and denying them a bonus point.

      Call me a cynic but I don’t see us getting many kickable pens.

    3. Ha…yeah that would be an epic fail for the Harlem Globe Trotters if they dropped the ball that many times…

      The biggest positives from the Samoa match, for me anyway, were that…
      1. We actually turned up
      2. We won with a BP
      3. We finally found a side that, barring injury, we should stick with moving forward.

      If GT doesn’t play that side v Japan and further, if we make it, he’s officially lost his marbles and the bag he kept them in.

  26. Glad to be proved wrong insofar as we mustered one performance. And yet… It might be ‘awesome to respond to doubters’, but we’re still looking like limping out the World Cup to a tier 2 nation, with most bookies putting us firmly behind Japan. A bagel win against a rag tag Samoa was pleasing, but hardly an emphatic response to the Ireland embarrassment. We’re still clearly in deficit for this WC, until Japan are put away, and the only possibility of redemption would be to beat NZ in QF, and there’s zero chance of that. On the plus side, the enforced changes to the back row looked awesome, I know some on this site are moist for Ritchie, but frankly Blade and Bradbury were the points of difference in carrying, and the YouTube videos were right – the Blade has hands. Ok, Harris, yes he looked big scrabbling on the defensive line, but rarely had to do anything. The midfield had no fluency though it didn’t look like Johnson had that bad a game (note, Taylor at 12, so seems we do lack proper 13s!!!*shakes head). Just as well Russell and Hogg are imperious and Maitland and Graham class. Long long way to go and backs against the wall. Still a doubter, still a shame the team doesn’t do it’s talking only on the pitch.

    1. This world cup is being ruined by the conditions and we are simply nowhere near prepared enough. We have everything stacked against us for Japan. Our best hope is they drop a BP to Samoa. They will have home support, neutral support, are the only team used to the conditions and it is the biggest game in their history. Conditioning is going to be our downfall I fear. Reading too much into the Samoa win is as silly as reading too much into the Ireland win. We are somewhere in the middle.

      1. One thing that bothers me …is that for all the ‘alleged’ meticulous preparation for this RWC…we knew the stadium we would play Samoa in …we knew that historically we have a tough time beating them …we knew that conditions would be tricky because of humidity levels….we looked like should have prepared more intensively for that. Having a few training sessions with a shampoo ball seems a bit lame..considering the impact conditions have. We should have prctised in a closed roof stadium environment in the US….plentty to choose from.

    2. Yep…getting no LBP v Ireland at the least + points differential from that, could easily have cost us a QF spot. It really was the wrong day to have a bad performance.
      We are right up against it. At least we know what we have to do v Japan…plenty time to prepare the right tactics. Our inconsistent attitude has been our biggest failing…we really have to fight and claw every match and combine that with variation and pace. Im just not convinced we have the balls for it.
      Ireland and Japan are now favorites.
      NZ rely on teams not believing they have a chance. In a one off QF… and we, play to our max potential…we, and whoever qualifies, could win….its fine margins competing for the RWC.
      If the attitude and the execution is there its anyone’s.

  27. Real step in the right direction but by no means perfect. Defence, discipline and set-piece were excellent as was the added impetus in ball-carrying from Blade and Bradbury. Really liked the mixing up in styles of kicking from Russell and Hogg. I’d love the latter to do a little more distribution though – he’s heavily marked at the moment so would be brilliant to see him bring Graham into the game more.

    The main problem for me was the lack of clinicality in the Samoan 22. Obviously a 34 point win was amazing but really we should have had a couple more tries. The conditions played a part but looked a bit like we were struggling with white line fever and not backing ourselves to go through the phases and get over the line. Hopefully this was just an after-effect of the Ireland game though and the confidence this win gives will allow a bit more trust and cohesion next week.

    Think this team needs to be the one that runs out against Japan. Only change I would make is maybe Cummings for Gilchrist. Unless Gilchrist is a key cog in the lineout that I’m unaware of – it was perfect so don’t want to risk upsetting that – Cummings provides a whole other carrying threat close to the line, really taking the ball at pace and sucking in defenders. He’s really kicked on this year and could form an amazing combination with Skinner in the future.

    Thought a real point of difference was Hogg’s drop goal. As others have said above more of this is needed to keep opposition guessing.

    1. Agree with large parts of that.
      Im not sure what more Hogg could have done to be fair. Teams look to narrow the channels he can attack these days. That drop goal is a very good option though if he can be consistent with his power and accuracy. Also… from closer range I’ve no idea why Russell cant be that threat also…he seems to kick well. Spacing them apart when the drop goal is on could really open a side up.
      Defences won’t know whether to wait for a running attack or blitz …which could begin to open them up for another runner.
      Its like everyone forgot the drop goal was an option…and then in this RWC…teams are saying ‘Oh yeah… remember the old drop goal
      There are teams …like Wales and Ireland who just line themselves along the try line in their defense structures and wait for opposition to tire from crash ball and drop the ball.

      1. I think the demise of the drop goal is a result of the modern desire to play for territory. I have no statistics to back this up but I am fairly sure less penalties get kicked now than a few years ago. Teams don’t see 3 points as a big enough reward to be back in your own 22 defending again.

        Agree though that it is a useful tactic to have up our sleeves. Our problem is that we need to be hunting for try bonus points so unless it’s a very tight game it would be the wrong strategy.

      2. Yeah…I agree.. it has its time & place though especially in say the 1st half of a match when putting points on the board. The more points per possession the better and it can tally up ..piling pressure on the opposition… I think its tailer made for our game… as it makes tight units open up one way or the other…opposition knowing they need a score… and a scrum penalty or knock on etc (which teams know we throw away like candy) aint going to win the match.

    2. Having watched it back the thing I noticed – and is common whenever we play reasonably well – is we imposed our game on the opposition more than they could impose theirs on us.
      By that I mean offensive defense and making them worry about our attack
      Too often, as was the case against Ireland, we allow them to settle into their pattern and try and cope with it. Much better to stop it at source and force them to come up with alternatives.
      I hope we see this with Russia then Japan – spoil the party, do the things the opposition would least like you to do. Be one step ahead. We play best when there is tempo, sure, but better still when there is rhythm and flow.

      Without wanting it to sound like a Laidlaw rant, the static point to point pod play can be undone with one turnover & a 80 yard Japanese try which gets the crowd on their feet.
      We are the tier 1 team. Respect doesn’t mean stand back and admire. The All Blacks seek to wipe the floor with you then happily give you all the respect you want at full time.

      We are still some way from 2017-18 vintage, partly of our own doing through muddled selection and contradictory tactics. It feels like we are starting again in the middle of a World Cup.

  28. Liking the fact this forum is now a Chris Harris love in.
    I’ve always said he was a class act who needed time.
    We’ve got 5 decent options at outside centre Toonie can now call on. Hutch, Jones and Bennett are all interchangeable attacking threats but have questions over their defence while Harris and Taylor might not have the flair but are better all rounders.
    Jones, Taylor and Harris can all also play on the wing.
    A squad able to start one kind of centre and have another kind on the bench will be quite a nicely balanced option for Toonie in the future IMO.

    1. Kind of…. Jones needs to get back to basics and learn to defend. He is on a shoogly peg at Glasgow ..never mind Scotland.

      IMO… Hutchinson is a 12 and a better one than Johnson…Johnson started great Jones…but seems to be dropping off a bit.
      Harris has shown that Jones really cant defend…the difference was obvious…and to be fair Harris has probably earned his spot v Japan
      Great that Bennett is back….if he can keep himself fit and healthy …he could still be a cracking player for Scotland.

      1. Broadly agree. Hutchinson is absolutely a 12 and I think he could be round for a long time in the team. Taylor, I worry that this has been one injury too many, especially now he is in his 30’s. Huw Jones I just dont know. Glasgow certainly isnt a happy place for him but I have the feeling if he moves he may well just disappear in a more competitive environment.

      2. Re: Jones or he could flourish.
        The pro teams obviously have to ship people out and you don’t know what’s going on. Could be anything- loss of confidence, friction with the coach – but form is temporary class is permanent.
        It’s not as if he’s old and in the last chance saloon. Plenty of time to come back.
        Matt Scott is still around too.

      3. I was thinking just the other day about how many centre options there have been in a Scotland squad during the last Rugby world cup cycle. Off the top of my head
        M. Bennett
        M. Scott
        C. Dean
        J. Johnstone
        S. Johnson
        P. Horne
        S. McDowall
        H. Jones
        N. Grigg
        R. Hutchinson
        J. Lang
        C. Harris
        D. Taylor
        A. Dunbar
        F. Russell

        All have either played at centre or been in the squad as centre cover since the last world cup. All are still playing. I think GT needs to choose his guys and stick with them for the next couple of years. Which is probably the guys who have been in the extended squad for this world cup. If others are to force their way in it should either be due to injury or because they’re playing so well they simply cannot be ignored.

    2. I would certainly not go that far about Harris Johnny B, the reality is that we pick Harris or Taylor who just has not shown the form he used to have.

      I would have Bennett, Hutchison, Dunbar, Scott, Grigg and possibly Jones despite his shoddy form ahead of both Taylor and Harris currently.

      We just have to pick the least worst option out the 2 atm… notice our backline has not flowed at all really.

      This was all Toonies plan anyway to inflate his ego.

      1. Grigg??…. nah!
        had chances to show something…just simply not test level.
        Dunbar , to me, has some sort of motivation issue. Maybe due to injuries. He hasn’t looked test level for a long time.
        Scott ?…he is ok…neither brilliant or terrible…not much different to P Horne imo.
        Jones…its ineteresting that his best form for Scotland came whilst playing super rugby/SA. That play style suits his game…..he looks lost in the defensive pro14/6N….to me. He looks good for Sco when he has a player who does all the defensive work beside him.
        Bennet (fit and healthy) YES!
        Hutchinson YES!
        Johnson YES!…tho he’s wobbly at the moment.
        Harris YES! …and I was on the didn’t rate bandwagon… has looked better and better recently and deserves his chance.
        McDowell won’t be far off soon …and could well offer more balance at centre.

        Id like to see a Hutchinson Bennett combo…though may lack defense.
        Hutchinson Harris could be a very good combo too imo.
        Its just disappointing we dont really know our best centre pairing ..and we’re in the middle of a RWC.

      2. Not sure about this Toonie ego thing. He wouldn’t be an effective coach if he didn’t have self believe.
        Our midfield has been porous for seasons and the attitude has been that you can score tries but we’ll score more.
        The top teams have worked this out and were targeting it then smothering us.
        Toonie is trying to find a different balance. If you want to criticise then perhaps it’s valid to say the balance should have been settled earlier than the eve of the RWC, as we’ve gone into the tournament with a hitherto untried choice of combinations.

        Injury has played a role in this though. Taylor, Jones and Bennett were all unavailable for all/ most of the 6N.

        This is one reason why I think 2 seasons is not long enough to become the national coach.

        Jones, Bennett, Hutch will all come back into the equation. I think in the longer term we will see Harris/ Bennett as the starting/ bench combo but form or injury could alter that.

    3. Yeah right except Jones Bennett and Hutchison are in Scotland, Taylor is an inside centre really and Harris is the last bang average man standing. Other than that totally agree, obvs.

  29. Hopefully we the supporters set the example by not being flaky.
    Japan and Ireland both odds on to qualify but if we keep heads down and win v Russia with a BP pressure mounts on them both.

    It’s all we can do so come on Scotland!

  30. What do bookies know about rugby. They had Scotland at 5/1 for not making it out of pool prior to matches starting. Couldn’t bet against own team though. Hopefully they were right and we can continue with the form shown against Samoa.

    1. Bookies don’t make the odds. They open up with a ‘tissue’ – a jargon term for opening prices based on their calculations of %age win/lose/draw chances for either side – and after that it’s the weight of punters’ money that determines the actual odds, not the bookies.

  31. Dear all, if we could save the team picks for the Russia (or Japan) games until the relevant preview posts for those games that would be amazing.

  32. Let’s be honest here, nobody really believed we were going to beat Ireland. Hoped, yes but not believed. I believed we MIGHT get a losing BP, and hoped for more. It wasn’t to be.
    After that loss (and performance) I thought the best we could hope for was 3 wins, with a BP against Russia, to take 2nd spot. Japan beating Ireland means even that (probably) won’t be enough. We needed a BP win against Samoa as well!!
    So we got that – and some of you are still moaning about aspects of the performance. Are you fans or just trying to be opinionated? That was a fantastic performance where our mistakes DIDN’T COST US A SINGLE POINT. Every team makes mistakes but we didn’t let it affect us. Unlike the Ireland game.
    We are now in a position that, despite the shellacking Ireland gave us (remember, at the time Ireland they were #1 in the world and we hadn’t beaten them for 3 years) we are in control of our own destiny.
    If we go out on bonus points or points difference then OK – both Japan and Ireland will have deserved it. But two more BP wins will see us in the QFs and then – who knows?
    Optimism guys – it’s not just a word!

    1. So you think folks just critiqued Scotlands performance v Ireland unfairly and then proceeded to critique the performance yourself??….

    2. I lost the point in this post. Should Scotland have done more with Ireland? everyone expect the Irish would say yes to that.

      Going into this competition a bonus from Ireland seem more possible than a bouns against Japan. I think so , but now , we should be optimistic , I agree.

      We know what is coming , Japan have 2 tough games ahead and they are coping with a pressure now that no one can prepare them for , the expectation of ‘Success’

      1. Well yeah…I think more could have been done against Ireland.
        Ireland have been struggling all this year and were/ are beatable. We should have at least made a match of it and got a LBP…and because of Irelands flaky form most people believed there was a real opportunity to win that match. We made a hash of it…on all fronts.
        We’ll see re:Japan. They have it all going for them… media/rugby public/ love to love them. They are favorites..but for me, more because of circumstances rather than actually being a better side than ours.Home advantage …especially in a world cup…is a huge factor.Itll be interesting to see how the 50/50s are called in whose favor…if its unbalanced and favorable to Japan…that would smell of who world rugby org wants to progress for a ‘successful’ RWC. I sense that even if we turn up we won’t be ‘allowed’ to win.

    3. Could it be that our mistakes didn’t cost us a single point, not because we recovered from them but because Samoa were so bad that, like Scotland of old, they couldn’t capitalise on what we’d gifted them?

      We still made too many mistakes and compounded those mistakes by how we reacted. Conditions might be a mitigating factor in how many mistakes were made but not in how they were reacted to. That aspect of our game needs to improve.

  33. Ireland going with almost full strength side v Russia

    15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
    Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Joey Carbery, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Jordan Larmour

    1. They were casualties of their own arrogance in believing they just needed to turn up to beat Japan, they won’t make that mistake again.

      1. Don’t agree, I believe Japan out played them. The green machine was exposed when Japan only committed a few to the rucks and their tactics were exposed , penalized and ultimately curtailed. They had no plan B , welcome to our world.

        It makes you wonder how the fast game and fittest players in the tournament missed it , but I am not complaining , great game of rugby, we can learn.

      2. I think it was a combination of reasons why Japan won that match.
        Ireland went in thinking they could play decent and still win.
        Japan have been preparing for 3 years to get out of our pool. Ireland looked like they thought they were already in the QF.
        Ireland look lost when they didn’t get their ‘easy’ penalty gifts.
        Japan looked good in many parts of the match…BUT.. not so great in the final 1/3. 1 try for all their ‘brilliance’. A few penalties won them the match.
        Japan play a style that is pretty similar to us… they play fast…faster probably. Their defense is porous …just as ours has been pre Samoa. Their 1st choice team got absolutely shredded by Sth Africa just before the RWC. Im just not sold on them being any better than they were the last RWC. Same hype train…we’ll see. They’ll be as well rested as anyone …so no more of that excuse from them this time.

      1. Any competent 10 should be able to play across the back line against Russia. I’m assuming as soon as Sexton gets through a half ( or even less ) and shows he’s fit, he’ll be off.

  34. Slightly nervous that Ireland didn’t blow away Russia with a nearly full strength side. Maybe just shows what a tricky venue that was and maybe the result against Samoa needs to be reviewed in light of that. I don’t think we can take the try bonus for granted especially if we have less than full strength side and any dip in form, focus or fight.

    1. I don’t think we have much much choice but to play an almost entirely second string team.

      Otherwise we’re going to be well below our top performance against Japan.

      It’s a risk but our second XV should be able to get a BP against Russia.

      1. I agree with that , the only question I am still juggling is do we start with the 1st String and pull them when the game is won or do we bring them on for impact. I am leaning towards the latter unless anyone can convince me otherwise.

  35. Just watched last 30 minutes of Ireland v Russia. Ireland looked pretty poor which makes me think three things:
    1. Our performance against them was really a missed opportunity for at least a losing bonus point.
    2. The conditions against Samoa were more of a factor than we realised at the time – lots of spilling the ball from both sides.
    3. Russia might not be the walk over we thought.

    1. Ireland have been on a downward trajectory for a year. They are one dimensional. They got lucky beating the All Blacks , who virtually every team they play against on a tour, treat the game like a world cup that they have some bragging rights. We did same at Murrayfield. NZ will slaughter Ire if they meet in the world cup.
      Ireland teams have never ever made it past the QF…even we have…and our record isnt very good. Historical patterns affect the here and now….despite all the hogwash contrary statements from players and coaches. Thats why they are all trying out Sports Psychs.
      We had a great chance…and totally choked it. Coaches and players.In large part, I think, was due to us having such a poor record against Ireland for the last decade. We make ourselves believe they are much better than they actually are.

      1. Well that would be the majority of the 6N not just the last couple of games.
        Ball locks!.. They just aint that good.

    1. They did, but they didn’t offer much more than passion and commitment. They’ve a couple of very good players, but not enough to pose a real challenge. If our second XV can’t get 5 points against a team who got spanked by Jersey Reds and Connacht, then we’ve done more than a few things wrong.

      Even a team as inconsistent as ours should get the BP win.

      1. They’ll also have played an extra game than us despite starting their campaign only two days earlier. Judging from their coaches comments they put a lot of emotional energy into this game and we’re delighted with their performance so I’m not sure they can double it up in 6 days time.

        We should field our seconds, take the risk but back our players. Horne and Hastings should carve them open and we’ve got enough quality up front to do the job.

      2. They’ll be tough to break down in that 1st half…but I can see the 2nd half opening up.
        The challenge, for the coaches, in selecting a team of ‘2nd choice players’ will be getting them to play with the desire and commitment needed to get the result Scotland need.
        Everyone just assumes these guys just all turn up and play like they are 1st choice selections…I dont think in reality that’s what happens…some players will be pretty put out by not making the 1st team for the important matches..some will use it as motivation…some won’t. In an ideal world they play their best for the common cause…but people are people…and they are just entering a new season for their club sides.
        Im not expecting anything much different from the Ireland v Russia match. A stodgy workmanlike performance and win.

  36. Russia competed at the set piece and breakdown very well, but their backs and half backs are woeful and they weren’t really capable of generating any threat.

    A second string side, with some first picks on the bench just in case should be enough to get 5pts.

    We also want a good point differential too, just in case.

    1. PD will only come into it if Scotland, Ireland and Japan are all tied – seems a v distant possibility

      1. Ireland miss BP v Samoa and we BP Russia & Japan with Jspan getting LBP. Distant, but not impossible, and it would also put all kinds of pressure on Ireland

      2. Due to our PD it would put huge pressure on us. We need a huge win against Russia to get back from the deficit we gave ourselves against Ireland. If that happens the odds are stacked against us at present. We really do need Ireland to get themselves out the way or draw or lose the game. But I doubt that’ll happen.

  37. I think it was just too hot and sweaty for Ireland today, they started well, 2 tries within first 15 minutes, but when the temperatures rose, they were overcome. I think there is very little to learn from that match.

    Should we not be focused on Japan v Samoa on Saturday. What could happen? Samoa win , unlikely, Samoa disrupt enough to prevent a bonus point win, that would be nice. As a consequence we need just need to score more points than Japan without the stress of a bonus.

    Japan come out bruised , highly likely, lose a key play-maker ? While I never not wish it on anyone, that is a possibility. The worst situation is Japan win and get 5 points, however the pressure will build for Japan after their match on Saturday. That is not something they are used to.

    1. On our day, and on most days, we are a better side than Japan and we should beat them when we meet them in the final group match. Not saying we will, only that we should.
      Start off like we did against Samoa, carry it on, and we’ll shake their game plan and beat them.

      1. Japan failing to get BP on Saturday would be massive for us. Beating host nation in last game is quite possible for us, beating them with bonus point is a huge ask. Despite that (and this is the great paradox of rugby’s ‘sporting’ ethos) I don’t think I could bring myself to cheer on Samoa during Saturday’s game. Japan were just such a joy to watch against Ireland.

      2. I agree….its same as last time around…the Japan hype train. They
        looked ok against Samoa..even with resting some 1st choice players … but nothing to think we cant win against them. Nobody is talking about their pre RWC match against SA, their 1st choice side…..absolutely shredded by SA. It was a real reflection how they fare against a top side. We should be beating them.
        We’ll have to give the ref absolutely no reason to send off or sin bin. If that happens Japan will win.
        All things being fair and level .Id expect us to win. Im just not convinced it will be fair and level.
        We’ll need to be very efficient with our possession and opportunities to put any points on the board.
        How we deal/defend against Japan for the 1st and last 20mins will dictate the result imo. Thats when any home crowds are most vocal and energized. The mid section of the game, if we get the momentum, we need to rack some points up.
        If we don’t win…it will have been a poor RWC… no question.

  38. If somehow, after 4 days rest we are unable to get the necessary victory to push us through, it’s not all over – Ireland could collapse against Samoa (that upset is definitely on – given the amount injury done to Samoa this RWC – they will want to absolutely put Ireland into the ground like Japan did)…so there’s a second hope. I believe that somehow Scotland will get through this.

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