Need to Know: Scotland v Samoa match preview

KO 2.30 at St. James’ Park, Saturday 10th October
Live on ITV

With the advantage of what will be effectively a home fixture and facing a Samoan side who have failed to fire and are already out of the tournament, surely even Scotland can’t find a way to mess this up? There is some serious talent in the Samoa line-up though and the men in dark blue cannot afford to be at all complacent if they want to achieve their goal of making the RWC quarter-finals.

Teams

15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Mark Bennett
12 Matt Scott
11 Sean Maitland
10 Finn Russell
9 Greig Laidlaw (c)
1 Alasdair Dickinson
2 Ross Ford
3 WP Nel
4 Jonny Gray
5 Richie Gray
6 Ryan Wilson
7 John Hardie
8 David Denton
15 Tim Nanai-Williams
14 Paul Perez
13 George Pisi
12 Rey Lee-Lo
11 Fa’atoina Autagavaia
10 Tusi Pisi
9 Kahn Fotuali’i (c)
1 Sakari Taulafo
2 Ma’atulimanu Leiataua
3 Census Johnston
4 Teofilo Paulo
5 Kane Thompson
6 Maurie Faasavalu
7 Jack Lam
8 Alafoti Faosiliva

16 Fraser Brown
17 Gordon Reid
18 Jon Welsh
19 Tim Swinson
20 Josh Strauss
21 Henry Pyrgos
22 Peter Horne
23 Sean Lamont

16 Motu Matu’u
17 Viliamu Afatia
18 Anthony Perenise
19 Faifili Levave
20 Vavae Tuilagi
21 Vavao Afemai
22 Patrick Faapale
23 Ken Pisi

Team Talk
7 changes from last week as we finally get to see what appears to be Big Vern Cotter’s first choice line-up. Bennett, Maitland and Russell really strengthen the back line and reuniting the Edinburgh front row trio of Dickinson, Ford and Nel should allow Scotland to gain a good advantage in the scrum.

Head to Head:
Back 3 – EVEN

  • For the second week running Scotland find themselves facing a team who are actually stronger due to injuries/suspensions. The absence of Alesana Tuilagi will mean more pace and threat out wide from a dangerous Samoan trio. The Scotland back 3 are more than capable of ripping defences apart themselves and the key for both sides will be minimising opportunities for the opposition trio.

Centres – ADV Scotland

  • Interestingly Matt Scott will be the biggest of the 4 centres on show, but Scotland would still be well advised to break down the midfield through skill and guile rather than trying to get into a physical contest with their Samoan counterparts.

Half Backs – ADV Scotland

  • This is the sort of game that is made for a gallus character like Finn Russell and he’ll be looking to mix up Scotland’s play and keep Samoa on the back foot. Greig Laidlaw has to get the ball moving as quickly as possible and give the Samoan back row the runaround. He will have his hands full even with an out of form Kahn Fotauli’i.

Front Row – ADV Scotland

  • Last week against Japan, Sakari Taulafo gave one of the worst displays I have ever seen from an international rugby player with handling errors galore, stupid penalties, a yellow card and poor scrummaging. If he is the best Samoa have to offer at LH then their pack is in for a very long afternoon at scrum time up against the biggest tight 5 Scotland can put out.

Second Row – ADV Scotland

  • One of the more solid areas in the Samoan starting XV but they find themselves up against 2 talented operators in the Gray brothers who will hopefully have learnt some lessons from being outplayed by their South African contemporaries last weekend.

Back Row – EVEN

  • The Samoan back row looks far stronger than the unit that started against Japan. Scotland will be hoping that John Hardie can get straight up to speed and can generate turnovers for a side that has struggled to have any impact on their opponents’ rucks.

Numbers you need to know
12
Number of players in the Scotland squad who will have featured in all 4 pool games. Stuart Hogg is the only player to start all 4 matches.

3
Greig Laidlaw was only the 3rd Scottish player to be yellow carded in a RWC game (and the first back) after Tom Smith v USA in 2003 and Nathan Hines v Italy in 2007.

34
RWC points scored by Greig Laidlaw – only 4 players have scored more for Scotland. 9 points in Saturday’s game will take Greig past Dan Parks leaving only Kenny Logan (61), Chris Paterson (140) and Gavin Hastings (227) ahead of him.

24.8
Average age of the Scottish back line. Greig Laidlaw apart all of the players selected are young enough to still be Scotland regulars in 4 years time for the RWC in Japan.

99
Number of caps for Sean Lamont – more than the other 7 Scotland players on the bench combined. Hopefully Sean can mark his 100th cap with his first RWC try when he joins the fray on Saturday.

Previous results
The sides have met 9 times with Scotland victorious on 7 occasions, one draw and a single win for Samoa. There have been two previous encounters between the teams in RWCs (although never before in the pool stages):

        • 1991 Scotland 28-6 Samoa (Murrayfield)
        • 1999 Scotland 35-20 Samoa (Murrayfield)

Most recent meeting:

        • Scotland 17-27 Samoa (Durban)

A fairly ignominious day out for Scotland with what was a rather patched together team. Matt Scott, Greig Laidlaw and Alasdair Dickinson will be the only starters remaining from that match with Sean Lamont, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos and Peter Horne the others in the 23 who tasted defeat in Durban.

Officials
Jaco Peyper is the first man to take charge in this RWC with whom Scotland actually can point to a winning record, having emerged victorious in 3 of the 4 matches he has officiated in. Hopefully as the team who won the first ever Test match he refereed (that famous 9-6 thumping of Australia) he will always have a soft spot for us…For more stats on Mr. Peyper visit Great Call Rugby who have some excellent analysis on the officials at the current tournament.

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