Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Five things we learned from Scotland v Samoa

Published 10/10/2015

Scotland's Greig Laidlaw celebrates scoring their third try against Samoa
Scotland's Greig Laidlaw celebrates scoring their third try against Samoa

Scotland are through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup - but only just, after holding off an extraordinary effort by already-eliminated Samoa and triumphing 36-33 in a thriller at St James' Park.

Here Press Association Sport highlights five aspects of the Scotland performance which must improve if they are to stand a realistic chance of going even further at Twickenham next weekend.

SCOTLAND ARE MORE THAN A ONE-MAN SHOW - BUT ONLY JUST

Greig Laidlaw once again led by example, scoring 26 of his team's 36 points including - fittingly - the late try which effectively sealed their place in the last eight. Additionally, the way Laidlaw marshalled his pack was magnificent throughout. But for all Laidlaw's enduring excellence, plenty of his team-mates were well below that same shining standard - and will need to considerably improve if Scotland are to stand any chance of reaching the last four.

ANOTHER BAD START THREATENED TO COST THE SCOTS DEAR

Bad starts have been a hallmark of the Scottish World Cup campaign so far - they struggled to shake off both Japan and the United States before giving themselves too much to do against South Africa last week. For all their insistence they would work on pressuring the Samoans from the off, they were found spectacularly wanting as the Pacific islanders dominated the early exchanges and came close to scoring a costly upset as a result.

DECISION-MAKING IS NOT THE SCOTTISH STRONG POINT

If there was one slightly negative aspect of Laidlaw's towering performance, it was his decision-making early in the second half when the Scots still trailed by three points. Twice in succession Laidlaw opted not to go for the points, effectively costing his side the lead. Fortunately, the Samoans' persistent misdemeanours allowed the Scots to emerge unscathed. Laidlaw opted to kick his next two opportunities - and Scotland managed to hang onto their advantage.

SAMOA EXPOSED THE SCOTS' LACK OF PHYSICALITY ACROSS THE LINE

The ease with which the Samoans breached Scottish lines in their three-try first half will have set alarm bells ringing for coach Vern Cotter with much sterner tests to come. Cotter made seven changes from last week's loss to South Africa, bringing back his supposed big guns, but arguably last week's weakened line-up showed more strength in dealing with opposition attacks. The good news is, it gives Cotter a selection dilemma ahead of Twickenham next week.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SCOTLAND'S MENTAL STATE

For all their obvious failings, one thing that certainly cannot be levelled against Scotland is an inability to perform under pressure. Laidlaw's cool head led by example as his side shrugged off a monumental effort by the Samoans in the first half. Despite their last-eight berth apparently hanging by a thread, the Scots played as if they were always confident of turning things around - and once they gained the lead late on it was one they never looked likely to relinquish.

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph