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Scotland keep pressure on Ireland with bonus-point win over Samoa

Gregor Townsend’s men were made to sweat but eventually secured their crucial fourth try.

Scotland 34

Samoa 0

GREGOR TOWNSEND’S SCOTLAND kept themselves in the mix in Pool A of the World Cup with a bonus-point win over Samoa, leaving them one match point behind second-place Ireland in the race for quarter-final spots.

Failure to get all five points this evening in a sweltering Kobe Misaki Stadium would have been a major slip-up from Scotland as they aimed to recover from their opening defeat to Ireland, but they got over the line with a 74th-minute penalty try.

scotland-v-samoa-pool-a-2019-rugby-world-cup-misaki-stadium Greig Laidlaw scored 12 of Scotland's points. Source: Adam Davy

As such, the Scots keep the pressure on Ireland ahead of their clash with Russia in this venue on Thursday, when Joe Schmidt’s men will be keen to open up some breathing space with a bonus-point win of their own.

Scotland also face Russia next on Wednesday 9 October before a potentially decisive clash with hosts Japan on Sunday 13 October. That could well be akin to a play-off tie in Yokohama, should Ireland do enough against Russia and Samoa in the coming 12 days to send them into the quarter-finals. Japan face Samoa – who are also on five match points – on Saturday, before their clash with the Scots. 

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw scored 12 points in a busy 64-minute outing against Samoa, while out-half Finn Russell had moments of class amid a hugely error-strewn affair in Kobe and second row Jonny Gray was named man of the match for a hard-working display.

There were lessons for Ireland in this contest, with their clash against Samoa – the first team to be nilled in this tournament – still ahead for Schmidt’s side, but also in terms of the conditions inside Kobe Misaki Stadium.

To call it hot and humid would be an understatement. Both teams struggled to catch the ball and keep their footing on the pitch in the 30°C, sauna-like conditions, with the retractable roof firmly shut. 34 turnovers conceded in total told a story. 

The roof will be closed again on Thursday for Ireland’s clash with Russia, so Schmidt’s men can expect slippery conditions too. Given that it was sweaty in the stands, one can only imagine how difficult it was for the players on the pitch. 

scotland-v-samoa-pool-a-2019-rugby-world-cup-misaki-stadium Sean Maitland scored the Scots' opening try. Source: David Davies

World Rugby has had a policy of closing roofs on stadiums at World Cups since 2003, the idea being to avoid teams getting into arguments about whether they should be open or not. Ireland and Russia will simply have to suffer on Thursday, as the Scots and Samoans did here. 

Having come through their early handling difficulties with a 3-0 lead via Laidlaw’s boot, Scotland finally cracked the Samoan resistance on the half-hour mark with a delightful Russell cross-field kick for wing Sean Maitland to score on penalty advantage.

Laidlaw converted and then finished the second try, created by Russell’s beautiful midfield offload to flanker Jamie Ritchie, who passed inside to Laidlaw, with the scrum-half going through Tim Nanai-Williams’ poor tackle attempt to score.

Fullback Stuart Hogg made it a 20-0 half-time lead with a booming drop-goal from 45 metres out, leaving the Scots firmly in control.

The Scots took their time to breach the tryline in the second half too, having to wait until the 57th minute to earn a penalty try with a close-range maul, Samoan wing Ed Fidow being sin-binned in the process. 

Nervy moments followed but Scotland finally sealed the bonus point with a second penalty try, Fidow having slid into Maitland knee-first to prevent him from scoring in the left corner, ensuring a red card for Fidow after his second yellow. 

Scotland scorers:

TriesSean Maitland, Greig Laidlaw, Penalty try [2]

ConversionsGreig Laidlaw [2 from 2]

PenaltiesGreig Laidlaw [1 from 1]

Drop goals: Stuart Hogg

SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg; Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson (Duncan Taylor ’64), Sean Maitland; Finn Russell (Adam Hastings ’75), Greig Laidlaw (George Horne ’64); Allan Dell (Gordon Reid ’13), Stuart McInally (captain) (Fraser Brown ’52), WP Nel (Zander Fagerson ’57); Grant Gilchrist (Scott Cummings ’52), Jonny Gray; Magnus Bradbury (Ryan Wilson ’73), Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson.

SAMOA: Tim Nanai-Williams; Belgium Tuatagaloa (Kieron Fonotia ’45), Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow (yellow card ’57, red card ’75); Tusi Pisi (Ulupano Seuteni ’54), Melani Matavao (Pele Cowley ’71); Logovii Mulipola (Jordan Lay ’44), Ray Niuia (Seilala Lam ’54), Michael Alaalatoa (Paul Alo-Emile ’47); Teofilo Paulo (Piula Faasalele ’51), Kane Le’aupepe; Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (captain) (HIA – Josh Tyrell ’4 to ’13).

Attendance: 27,586.

Referee: Pascal Guazere [France].

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Kobe Misaki Stadium

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