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Rejuvenated Scotland to seal quarter-final place by reasserting authority over Samoa

09 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rejuvenated Scotland to seal quarter-final place by reasserting authority over Samoa

New-look Scotland can further confound their critics against a Samoan side that have been one of the tournament's biggest disappointments

Scotland’s struggles have been so acute in recent years that, ahead of the World Cup, many were tipping Samoa as favourites to secure the second quarter-final spot behind South Africa in Pool B.

The fact that they have plummeted three places in the world rankings since the tournament got under way speaks volumes for just what a disastrous campaign it has been for the Pacific Islanders, who were eliminated following last weekend’s surprise 26-5 defeat to Japan.

Places in the last eight have been increasingly hard to come by for Tier 2 nations in the modern era – with two-time quarter-finalists Samoa failing to qualify since 1995 – and given the relative ease of their group there can be no doubt that they have squandered a major opportunity.

Scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i has pledged to make up for letting their country down on Saturday by ending on a high against Scotland, whose performances so far have by contrast been a pleasant surprise to those watching back home.

Having comfortably beaten both USA and Japan and after running South Africa close before a sin-binning undermined their challenge, Vern Cotter’s side know that any sort of win on Saturday will be enough to make the knock-out stages.

Should they slip up, then Japan can capitalise by overcoming a weary and woeful USA side that were thrashed 64-0 by the Springboks on Wednesday.

The Scots were ultimately outdone by South Africa’s physicality last time out, and they will be wary of being dominated in a similar fashion against a side whose game has always been based upon raw power.

Yet Samoa will be without their most fearsome of ball carriers following the harsh five-week ban meted out to Alesana Tuilgai for ‘striking an opponent with his knee’ in attempting to bounce off a poorly-executed tackle against Japan.

The hulking winger scored two tries in Samoa’s 27-17 win the last time these two sides met – the Polynesians’ only victory against Scotland in their history.

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Indeed, the gap between the two sides has visibly closed in recent years with the three meetings prior to that win all being decided by a single score or less.

Scotland, meanwhile, have made seven changes to the team that lost to South Africa, with four of the players returning in Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell and John Hardie not having featured in a fortnight.

Their potential rustiness could see Scotland make another slow start having taken a while to find their feet in all three matches at the tournament so far before scoring every one of their 11 tries after half-time.

With Samoa likely to make a fast start before fading, Saturday’s game could follow a similar pattern – with odds of 11/2 on Scotland to come from behind at half-time to win the match.

With a try in each of his two starts so far, Tommy Seymour is Scotland’s most potent threat – and the winger is 13/2 to score the game’s first try.

The two countries already share plenty of World Cup history with Scotland eliminating Samoa at the quarter-final stage in 1991 before repeating the trick in the 1999 play-offs with an average winning margin of 18.5.

With Samoa’s inferior fitness and chronic indiscipline likely to take its toll as the game wears on, a similar scoreline is certainly achievable on Saturday – with Scotland 6/1 to prevail by 16-20 points.

That Scotland should feel confident of progressing by achieving a third comfortable win in a pool that was expected to prove their downfall goes to show just how much Cotter has mixed things up since picking up the Six Nations wooden spoon in March.

Scotland v Samoa match betting

Rugby World Cup betting

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