Scotland outplay Samoa to keep World Cup hopes alive
WORLD CUP REPORT: Scotland revived their World Cup campaign with a decisive 34-0 win over Samoa in Kobe on Monday that saw the Pacific islanders finish a man down.
Victory was all but assured after a burst of 17 points in eight minutes late in the first half left Scotland 20-0 ahead at the interval.
Scotland wing Sean Maitland and Greig Laidlaw scored tries, both converted by the scrumhalf who also kicked an early penalty, before fullback Stuart Hogg landed the Scots’ first Test-match drop goal for more than five years with an audacious effort from just inside the halfway line.
Scotland secured the four-try bonus point with two penalty tries, Ed Fidow shown a pair of yellow cards that meant the Samoa wing saw red six minutes from time.
Scotland were in desperate need of a victory if they were to have any hope of reaching the quarterfinals after starting this World Cup with a woeful 3-27 loss to Ireland – who were in turn the victims of a shock 12-19 defeat by hosts Japan that threw Pool A wide open.
The Ireland reverse led Scotland coach Gregor Townsend to make wholesale changes, including fielding an entirely new back- ow against Samoa.
The Pacific islanders were without centre Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u after the pair received three-game bans for shoulder-led hits in a bruising 34-9 win over Russia.
It looked as if Laidlaw’s ninth-minute penalty would be the lone score of a first half where both sides struggled to hold on to the ball in humid conditions under the closed roof of the Kobe Misaki Stadium, with the biggest early cheers reserved for a spectator playing the bagpipes, a traditional Scottish instrument.
💬 “If we can play like we did tonight, and improve a couple more aspects, we’ll very much be in this world cup”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 30, 2019
But the character of the match changed on the half-hour mark when Scotland became the 20th – and last – team at this World Cup to score a try.
Flyhalf Finn Russell’s superbly-judged cross-kick was caught by Maitland, who held off opposing wing Belgium Tuatagaloa for a try in the left corner.
Scotland had their second try just four minutes later.
Russell made a darting break before finding the recalled Jamie Ritchie.
The openside flank’s clever inside pass released Laidlaw, who fended off a poor challenge from Samoa fullback Tim Nanai-Williams before crossing by the posts for a try he converted.
Then, with nothing else on, Hogg dropped a goal from wide out on the left from just inside halfway, a distance of some 50 metres with the angle, to make it 20-0.
It was Scotland’s first drop goal in an international since Duncan Weir’s match-winner against Italy in March 2014.
Scotland, who have now won all four of their World Cup matches against Samoa, went further ahead before the hour.
Following a catch and drive off a close-range line-out, French referee Pascal Gauzere, after consulting the television match official, awarded a penalty try and sent Fidow to the sin-bin – Samoa’s third yellow card in two matches – for collapsing the maul.
Samoa reserve scrumhalf Pele Cowley then came off the bench to play against his cousin Maitland for the first time in a Test but could not inspire his lacklustre side.
Instead Scotland had their second penalty try when Fidow went in knees first as Maitland tried to slide in at the left corner only to lose possession under the illegal challenge.
Gauzere showed Fidow a second yellow card and then a red.
Scotland next face outsiders Russia in Shizuoka on October 9, with Samoa playing Ireland in Fukuoka three days later.
Man of the match: Scotland’s three playmakers – Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg – were outstanding in open play. Flyhalf Finn Russell played a big role in two of his team’s tries with a neat cross-kick and a clever offload. He also directed play well in the second half.
Moment of the match: Stuart Hogg’s magnificent drop goal in the 38th minute.
Villain: Ed Fidow for receiving two yellow cards for some stupid play.
Tries: Maitland, Laidlaw, Penalty tries 2
Cons: Laidlaw 2
For Samoa: None
Yellow cards: Ed Fidow (Samoa, 57 – cynical play, join the maul from the side), Ed Fidow (Samoa, 75 – foul play, diving onto an opponent on the ground)
Red card: Ed Fidow (Samoa, 75 – two yellow cards)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (captain), 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Horne, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai Williams, 14 Belgium Tuatagaloa, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Melani Matavao, 8 Jack Lam (captain), 7 Thomas Ioane, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Kane Le’aupepe, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ray Niuia, 1 Logovii Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 Paul Alo Emile, 18 Jordan Lay, 19 Piula Faasalele, 20 Josh Tyrell, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 Ulupano Seuteni, 23 Kieron Fonotia.
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)