By Peter Rutherford
KOBE (Reuters) – Scotland’s woeful defeat to Ireland in their World Cup opener has emboldened their rivals for second spot in Pool A but while Samoa will no doubt sense blood ahead of Monday’s game in Kobe, Gregor Townsend’s side say they are ready to bite back.
There was always a strong possibility Scotland would lose to Ireland, who only recently surrendered the world No.1 ranking to New Zealand, but their lifeless performance has left a huge question mark over their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.
Former flyhalf Townsend’s influence on the Scots is plain to see – the side a joy to watch when in full flight – but the ease with which Ireland deprived them of possession and slowed the game down will not have escaped Samoan eyes.
“They’ll see us as like a wounded animal after that Ireland game and they are going to come at us,” said Scotland strength and conditioning coach Sean Lamont.
“We are not dead in the water, there’s still plenty to play for and for me it’s about bringing that energy.”
Scotland have beaten Samoa in all three of their previous World Cup games and if anyone knows what kind of challenge lies ahead in Kobe it is Lamont, who won his first, 50th and 100th caps against them.
“We need to box clever. If we just try and match them physically, that’s playing into their hands,” he said.
“We know exactly what’s coming. They are a nation of warriors.”
Samoa reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1991 and 1995 and while few gave them much of a chance of doing so again in Japan they sit top of the group after their bonus-point win over Russia on Tuesday.
The Pacific islanders scored six tries but also crossed the line in terms of physicality with Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u shown yellow cards for high tackles.
Both players have received three-match bans.
Their 34-9 victory over the limited Russians also saw Afaesetiti Amosa ruled out for the rest of the World Cup after the number eight suffered a serious knee injury.
Samoa prop Jordan Lay will see several familiar faces among the opposition on Monday, having played for Edinburgh during the 2017-18 season.
“They’re tough boys up there,” he said. “They’re really fit and I think that they’re going to be looking to play a fast, high-tempo game.
“They’re definitely a set-piece-focused team – they’re really strong at scrums and in their attacking maul, so they’ll be looking to use that this time, no doubt, and that’s what we’re preparing for.
“We’re looking forward to the big challenge.”
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)