Day 11 at the Rugby World Cup: Crunch time for Scotland
Scotland lost their opening match against Ireland.
Scotland take on Samoa on Monday knowing that only a victory will keep their World Cup hopes alive.
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Gregor Townsend’s men need to bounce back from their dire 27-3 loss to Ireland. Their task has been made that much more difficult by Japan’s shock win over Joe Schmidt’s men on Saturday – which has thrown Pool A wide open.
It means Scotland must realistically take maximum points – including bonus points – in each of their three remaining pool matches.
Samoa won their first match of the tournament with a comfortable 34-9 win over Russia.
Scotland need to respond
Scotland’s campaign endured the worst of starts when they posted a dismal performance against Ireland.
Monday’s Samoa clash offers them a chance to get back on track and a win is vital if they are to progress in the tournament.
“We have a point to prove,” said head coach Townsend.
“We have a responsibility when we are with the national team to give our best. The players are aware they may not get another opportunity.
“You point these things out but the players are aware of that. They know they can’t let this week slip by like we did last week.”
Pool A looks more open than ever after Japan pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament against Ireland, with the Japanese now challenging for a place in the knock-out stages – which heaps pressure on Scotland.
McInally does the maths
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) September 28, 2019
Victory against Samoa may go some way to reviving Scottish hopes, but bonus points must also be claimed if they are to survive until the next round.
“We watched the Japan game, we’ve done the numbers and we know the ramifications,” said Scotland captain Stuart McInally.
“But first and foremost we have to go out and win the game. In my experience if you start out by chasing bonus points you get into trouble.
“The task is still the same, it’s just a little bit harder in terms of us needing bonus points, but we still need to win all our games to get out of the group.”
Townsend rings the changes
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 28, 2019
Townsend has named a revised squad ahead of the clash at the Misaki Stadium in Kobe.
There is an overhaul in the back-row with Hamish Watson forced to miss the remainder of the tournament due to a knee injury.
He is replaced by Magnus Bradbury, with Blade Thomson assuming the number eight role and Jamie Ritchie starting at openside.
John Barclay has not been named and Ryan Wilson is demoted to the bench alongside Duncan Taylor, who makes way for Chris Harris. Adam Hastings, Zander Fagerson and George Horne have all been added to the replacements.
“We could have made less changes, we could have made more,” said Townsend of the squad.
“In terms of the back row, we feel this is the combination we are looking for.”
Laidlaw wades into Samoa tackle dispute
Samoa’s Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u were both shown yellow cards for high tackles during their side’s defeat of Russia, but were later cited and banned for three matches apiece.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw has since called upon match referees to respond with more immediate sanctions: “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.”
His input was welcomed by an indignant Steve Jackson, Samoa’s head coach.
“I’ll just say thanks for doing that,” he responded. “Because it just motivates our players a lot more.”
Wales underline World Cup credentials
Wales’ clash with Australia in Tokyo was the first major test of their credentials and Warren Gatland’s men passed it with flying colours.
A brilliant first-half display from the Six Nations grand slam winners gave them a 23-8 half-time lead and, although Australia turned the screw after the break, Wales held on to secure a victory that ought to guarantee them top spot in Pool D.
For their part, Australia will be delighted with the way they rallied but after labouring to an opening win over Fiji, Michael Cheika’s side have questions to answer when the stiffer tests come again in the knockout stages.
Elsewhere in Pool D, Uruguay were unable to follow up their surprise win against Fiji as Georgia eased to a 33-7 win.
Stat of the day
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 29, 2019
After a stunning performance for @welshrugbyunion, Gareth Davies won the @mastercard Player of the Match for #AUSvWAL
112 metres (#1)
3 defenders beaten
2 clean breaks
1 try #StartSomethingPriceless #POTM #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/znfuSBDqd6
Gareth Davies was sensational for Wales, especially with ball in hand, making more metres than anyone else.