Preview: Scotland v Samoa

Japan blew the doors off Pool A on Saturday with their sensational win over Ireland.

Japan blew the doors off Pool A on Saturday with their sensational win over Ireland.

But the equation remains a simple one for Scotland: win or die.

They need to beat Samoa on Monday and then run the table against both Russia and the hosts Japan if they are to make the knockout rounds.

Even then, the amazing scenes in Shizuoka mean Scotland are fighting for their lives.

Their opening thumping loss to Ireland was far from the ideal start, and injuries were added to the insult when both Hamish Watson and Ali Price went home crocked.

But the fight to return to contention in Pool A begins anew in Kobe on Monday night against a Samoa side who currently sit above them in the standings after their feisty win over Russia in week one.

That game earned them five points but they lost two senior players to suspensions in Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u and as a result Steve Jackson has been forced into four changes to his side.

Hooker Ray Niuia, captain and No.8 Jack Lam, scrum-half Melani Matavao, and winger Belgium Tuatagaloa all come into the starting XV.

Gregor Townsend has also opted to shuffle his pack, particularly the back row where an all-new trio combine in Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie and No.8 Blade Thomson.

Scotland and Samoa have met on three previous occasions at World Cups, including four years ago in England, and the Scots have won all three.

History is also on their side since never before have Scotland kicked off a World Cup with consecutive defeats.

That run will need to continue or their World Cup dream could be over before it has even begun.

Scotland v Samoa, Kobe, Monday September 30, Kick off 11:15AM BST

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend

“We know we if we don’t win all the next three games we won’t make the quarter-finals. The players are aware of that but they enter every game with the belief and determination to win anyway.

“(These changes) are what we believe is right for this week.

“Magnus (Bradbury) is a traditional carrier, we lost that with Hamish (Watson). Blade (Thomson) has played very well for us, he hasn’t played 80 minutes yet but he has shown in training and he showed last week that he is capable of playing 80. Jamie would have been in the mix for last week, he has been an outstandingly consistent player for us over the last 18 months. So they deserve to get an opportunity this week.”

Samoa head coach Steve Jackson on Japan’s victory

“I take my hat off to them and it was great to watch and, like any other team, we were almost cheering. It was a fantastic atmosphere and this Rugby World Cup here in Japan has been amazing.

“We watched the game yesterday and it’s fantastic, isn’t it? An upset in the Rugby World Cup. Now we will focus on Scotland and, if it goes the way we hope, it’ll be another upset there. It just goes to show that you’ve got to turn up on the day and play a game of 80 minutes.”

Two of the most electric attacking talents in world rugby face off at full-back on Monday in Kobe.

Ireland’s suffocating defence kept Hogg locked up for much of their opener in Yokohama, so the Exeter Chief will be hoping to find his form when it really counts.

Everything good that Samoa run comes through Nanai-Williams, the dancing feet and the canny football brain were key when Samoa gave Scotland a real fright in their most recent meeting back in 2017.

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Sean Maitland, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw, 1. Allan Dell, 2. Stuart McInally ©, 3. WP Nel, 4. Grant Gilcrhist, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Blade Thomson

Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. Gordon Reid, 18. Zander Fagerson, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Ryan Wilson, 21. George Horne, 22. Adam Hastings, 23. Duncan Taylor

Samoa: 15. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Belgium Tuatagaloa, 13. Alapati Leuia, 12. Henry Taefu, 11. Ed Fidow, 10. Tusi Pisi, 9. Melan Matavao, 1. Logovi’i Mulipola 2. Ray Niuia, 3. Michael Alaalatoa, 4. Filo Paulo, 5. Kane Le’aupepe, 6. Chris Vui, 7. TJ Ioane, 8. Jack Lam ©

Replacements: 16. Seilala Lam, 17. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. Jordan Lay, 19. Piula Faasalele, 20. Josh Tyrell, 21. Pele Cowley, 22. Ulupano Seuteni, 23. Kieron Fonotia