Rugby World Cup 2019
Scotland 34-0 Samoa
Scotland reignited their prospects of reaching the quarter-finals with a bonus-point victory over Samoa at the Kobe Misaki Stadium on Monday. Samoa, who had a man sent off, became the first team at Rugby World Cup 2019 to fail to register a score.
First-half tries from Sean Maitland, pictured above, and Greig Laidlaw and a drop-goal from Stuart Hogg gave them a commanding 20-0 lead at the interval, which they extended with a penalty try just before the hour.
But they had to wait until six minutes from time for a fourth try that could be critical to their hopes of progressing from a highly competitive Pool A.
Maitland dived in at the left corner only for Samoa wing Ed Fidow to dislodge the ball with his knee. After referring the decision to the TMO, referee Pascal Gauzere awarded a second penalty try, and a second yellow card to Fidow, who was then shown red.
It was Scotland’s fourth win in as many meetings with Samoa at Rugby World Cups, and a huge relief to them after a disappointing opening-game defeat by Ireland.
Gregor Townsend’ side now have eight days to prepare for their next pool match against Russia on 9 October, when another bonus-point win will be required if they are to remain in contention going into a decisive final pool fixture against Japan four days later in Yokohama.
Scotland had promised a reaction after their dismal 24-3 defeat by Ireland, and there was a snarl and snap about them from the off, despite the searing heat and humidity under the stadium roof.
Thumping tackles from Magnus Bradbury and Grant Gilchrist set the tone in the first two minutes, and the ferocity of the early exchanges led to casualties on both sides.
Samoa lost captain Jack Lam to injury in the third minute, with Scotland prop Allan Dell departing after 12.
Laidlaw kicked Scotland into a ninth-minute lead with a penalty, moving past 700 points for his country in the process, but errors at vital moments in the opening half-hour meant a breakthrough try eluded them.
Darcy Graham was worked into space down the right flank before he conceded a penalty inside the Samoan 22. Maitland came off his left wing to make the extra man down the right, only for he and Graham to lose their bearings as Maitland’s pass went to ground.
But Scotland, the last team to score a try in this World Cup, suddenly had two in three minutes.
First, Russell’s beautifully-judged cross-kick to the left corner found Maitland, and the winger finished without fuss.
Russell also created the second try minutes later with a skilful offload out of the back of his hand to Jamie Richie, who released Laidlaw. The scrum-half appeared to hesitate momentarily, only for Tim Nanai-Williams’ tackle to propel him, stumbling, over the line.
Laidlaw landed both conversions and minutes later Hogg thumped over a drop goal – the first of his 71-test career – to improve the lead to 20-0.
It might have been more, but Samoa’s defence held firm as Scotland launched three lineout drives from penalties without reward after the half-time gong had sounded.
Samoa, faced with a Scotland defence in which Player of the Match Jonny Gray put in a big shift, were a muted force in attack. Winger Fidow briefly threatened, only for Hogg to snuff out the danger.
Scotland resumed their quest for a bonus point and a third score arrived courtesy of a penalty try after 57 minutes, with Fidow sent to the sin-bin for bringing down the maul. He did not last long on his return before seeing red.