Simon Mail previews Monday's Rugby World Cup clash between Scotland and Samoa with Gregor Townsend's side needing a victory after their disappointing start...
"The last six clashes between Scotland and Samoa have been very close with no more than ten points between them."
Scotland v Samoa
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Scotland reeling after miserable defeat
Scotland head into their second match against Samoa under huge pressure, especially after Japan's huge upset against Ireland, if they are to progress to the World Cup quarter-finals. Gregor Townsend's side produced a dismal performance in their opening defeat to Ireland last weekend and will need a drastic improvement if they are to finish in the top two.
Too often Scotland have been punished for slow starts and they were not at the races against Ireland as they conceded twice in the opening 14 minutes. Scotland failed to show enough intensity and aggression as they were limply beaten 27-3 in Yokohama. The team have faced stinging criticism and must answer this quickly to avoid an early exit from Japan.
Townsend has rolled the dice by making five changes to his team and eight to the squad. With flanker Hamish Watson ruled out of the competition with a knee injury, Scotland field a reshaped back row as Magnus Bradbury lines up alongside Jamie Ritchie and Blade Thomson. Darcy Graham, who has scored five tries in seven Tests, replaces Tommy Seymour on the wing.
Samoa confident after winning start
Samoa started the tournament with a 34-9 victory against Russia, but the result does not tell the full story. After a sluggish first half which saw them reduced to 13 men briefly, Samoa trailed 6-5 but they turned the game around after the break. Alapati Leiua and Ed Fidow scored twice each as Samoa clinched a bonus point victory. It sets up this match with so much at stake for both teams after Japan's stunning win against Ireland.
Scotland have faced Samoa 11 times and won nine of these contests with only one defeat. The last six clashes between the teams have been very close with no more than ten points between them. In their most recent match, Scotland edged to a 44-38 win at Murrayfield two years ago. The sides also faced each other at the last World Cup in 2015 when Samoa were beaten 36-33.
Although Scotland have had the better of their head-to-heads there has been very little between the sides and it suggests the handicap of 18 points is wrongly dismissive of Samoa. Scotland should win this match if they play to their potential but, as shown last week, that is far from a given. Samoa will be competitive and appeal strongly with a generous head start in Kobe.
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