In Review

Rugby World Cup diary: Scotland braced for a battering against big hitters Samoa

Scots must beat Samoa to stand a chance of qualifying from pool A

Scotland vs. Samoa

  • What: Rugby World Cup pool A 
  • When: Monday 30 September 
  • Where: Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe 
  • Start time: 11.15am (BST) 
  • TV channel: live on ITV 

Scotland’s Rugby World Cup qualification hopes are on the line when they play Samoa in pool A on Monday. Lose and they are effectively out of the tournament.

In their opening match against Ireland the Scots were thrashed 27-3 in a spineless performance. “Unfortunately we’ve just not stood up and we’ve been battered,” admitted full-back Stuart Hogg.

Given the physicality that Monday’s opponents bring to their game the Scots could be in for another battering against the Samoans, who launched their World Cup campaign with a 34-9 win over Russia.

They won despite losing two men to the sin bin - both for dangerous tackles which, with a less lenient referee, might have resulted in a red card - and Scotland are braced for more of the same in Kobe. 

Cente Rey Lee-Lo has subsequently been suspended for three weeks and hooker Motu Matu’u has also appeared before an independent judicial committee in Tokyo and will learn his fate on Friday.

Bans for brutality

Despite the bans, Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw doesn’t expect the Samoans to tone down their approach, but he has called on referees to take a tougher line on dangerous tackles. 

“They were two clear headshots - and pretty brutal ones at that,” he said. “Ultimately, you are looking for the ref to look after players. 

“Were they red cards? I think they were. I don’t think it’s nastiness. I know ‘Motz’ [Matu’u] pretty well. I played with him at Gloucester. He just likes to hit people pretty hard. They like that physical part of the game. It’s just in their make-up and how they play.”

As Samoan centre Henry Taefu said this week: “You can’t really stop the boys hitting hard, it’s in our nature.”

Discipline vital

The Samoans will try and unsettle Scotland with some legitimate big hits but if one or two do border on the illegal, Laidlaw said they must keep their cool. 

“In these knock-out games, it’s vitally important that we keep our discipline no matter what’s happening round about us,” he said. 

“That’s discipline in our defence, in not giving away penalties, and in our attack shape. It’s right across the field for 80 minutes.” 

Win or go home

Laidlaw is under no illusions as to the importance of Monday’s game, which if they lose will see them almost certainly eliminated. 

“Every game is a knock-out now and we need to get it right against Samoa,” he said. “There have been a few frank discussions about a few areas in our game. 

“If we just go round in circles and be nice to each other, we’re not going to win many Test matches. It’s about being a man and looking each other in the eye and getting on with it.”

Japan vs. Ireland

  • What: Rugby World Cup pool A 
  • When: Saturday 28 September 
  • Where: Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka 
  • Start time: 8.15am (BST) 
  • TV channel: live on ITV
Carty steps up for Ireland 

Ireland will look to kick on from their impressive 27-3 win against the Scots by silencing the host nation on Saturday. 

Coach Joe Schmidt has picked a strong starting XV for the game against Japan, although he’s rested fly-half Jonathan Sexton and instead gone for Connacht’s Jack Carty. 

It will only be Carty’s second start for Ireland, but he’ll have alongside him at scrum-half the experienced Conor Murray. 

“He’s quite a calm character, Jack,” Murray said of Carty. “He has gotten to grips with the way we play - the tactics and the phase calls and what’s expected of him.”

Japan won 30-10 in their opening pool A match against Russia but they go into Saturday’s game as underdogs. 

Nonetheless, Murray is expecting to be given a serious challenge by the host nation. “It’s going to be really tough out there,” he said. “They play at a frantic pace if you let them and it could be a long day if you’re not on top of things.” 

Japan team
  • Starting XV: Yamanaka; Matsushima, Lafaele, Nakamura, Tupou; Tamura, Nagare; Inagaki, Horie, Koo, Thompson, Moore; Himeno, Labuschagne, Mafi 
  • Replacements: Sakate, Nakajima, Ai Valu, van der Walt, Tanaka, Matsua, Lava Lemeki 
Ireland team
  • Starting XV: Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Farrell, Stockdale; Carty, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong, Henderson, James Ryan; O’Mahony, van der Flier, Stander
  • Replacements: Cronin, Kilcoyne, Porter, Beirne, Ruddock, McGrath, Carbery, Larmour

Next RWC fixtures

There’s no matches at the Rugby World Cup on Friday, so fans will have to wait until Saturday for a triple header. 

In the opening game on Saturday Argentina and Tonga play in pool C (5.45am BST, live on ITV). This is followed by Japan vs. Ireland (8.15am, live on ITV) in pool A and South Africa vs. Namibia in pool B (10.45am, live on ITV 4).

On Sunday 29 September there’s two matches in pool D. First up is Georgia and Uruguay (6.15am) then Australia and Wales go head-to-head in Tokyo (8.45am).


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