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Vern Cotter hopes for a quicker start from Scotland

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter confessed his side need to find a way to come out of the traps quicker after wasting another 40 minutes against South Africa.

The Dark Blues were sluggish in their opening two World Cup clashes with Japan and United States before eventually letting loose in the second half.

And it was the same story against the Springboks in Newcastle as they again started slowly before impressing after the break.

But while Cotter's team was able to come through those first two games with bonus-point wins, Heyneke Meyer's muscle-bound Boks were not so forgiving as they claimed a 34-16 triumph.

Now the Kiwi admits his team must stop leaving it until half-time before showing their best rugby.

He said: "I think the score is a pretty fair reflection of the game. They dominated the contact area and we struggled to move forward.

"In the second half I though the players stepped up and matched the intensity at the breakdown. It was a better second half.

"Is there a reason why we've started slowly in all three games? It's a valid question.

"I'm unsure but it's something we will finding out why we don't seem to have that confidence to start off well and put our game-plan in ruthlessly from the start. It will be something that is talked about this week."

With a misfiring line-out, the Scots were simply unable to maintain possession and territory and the only wonder is why it took South Africa 13 minutes to open the scoring, with Schalk Burger adding the finishing touch after a ruck of bodies crashed over the Scottish line.

JP Pietersen added a second just before half-time after Scotland's vulnerability to the driven maul again shone through.

But the Scots stepped it up after the break, scoring a magnificent try through Tommy Seymour after stand-in stand-off Duncan Weir - replacing the injured Finn Russell - made a daring 80-yard intercept run.

They even closed to within six points and a losing bonus point before the Boks regained their composure, scoring a third try seven minutes from time as Bryan Habana dived over in the corner.

Cotter added: "I thought if we stayed close long enough they would become unsettled. I thought it was good that we got back within seven points but we will have to develop a little more self-belief."

Skipper Greig Laidlaw agreed with Cotter that the team must address their lack of intensity in the opening stages.

"We're playing good teams so it takes time to break them down," the scrum-half said.

"Both Japan and the US flew out heavy at us from the line and in defence.

"But we probably are starting slightly slow and we need to fix that before the Samoa game because clearly they are going to come out the blocks very quickly."

Scotland have now lost top spot in Pool B to South Africa and must beat Samoa in their final game next weekend or risk losing out on a quarter-final place.

The Pacific Islanders' hopes of qualifying are now gone after losing to Japan and Cotter hopes they will now will now go into party mode.

The head coach - who saw full-back Stuart Hogg limp off in the second half with what he hoped was a "tight back and cramp" and nothing more serious - added: "I'm sure the Samoans will want to finish the competition well and I expect them to. I can get our manager to send them a couple of crates of beer to try and convince them [that they have nothing to play for] but I don't think it will."

Meyer was just happy to see his Boks put a year of frustration behind them as they finally mustered back-to-back wins for the first time since November.

The head coach - whose side now face the US in their final game on Wednesday - said: "We were very clinical in the first half but lost a bit of momentum after the break.

"We knew this was a must-win game and we were under an immense amount of pressure. I'm just thankful we got through this game.

"We're at our best when the whole world writes us off. I don't know why, it's just part of our mentality, so we need to keep that pressure upon ourselves."


From Belfast Telegraph