Scotland can beat South Africa at World Cup

Peter Horne

Former Scotland stars Sean Lineen and Peter Wright say that Vern Cotter’s Scotland
team can beat South Africa’s Springboks in the Rugby World Cup.

Scotland had a strong World Cup pre-season pushing Ireland and France close
with wins over Italy.

Pool B is expected to come down to Scotland and South Africa with Samoa pushing
hard at them. The pool deciding match should be – according to the World Rankings
– should be in Newcastle on 3 October and Lineen says Scotland could upset the
Boks.

“Scotland will have a chance against them if they put the right team out,”
said former centre Lineen.

“There is that belief and Vern is a very good coach.”

Former Scotland international but New Zealand born Lineen says that New Zealand
are the “out-and-out favourites” but Scotland should be “too
strong” for the experienced Samoa team and predicts wins over Japan in
Scotland’s opening Pool B game on 23 September and the United States four days
later.

“They have been together for a couple of seasons now,” Lineen told
BBC Scotland’s Sportsound.

“They are growing together. Vern has developed a can-do atmosphere. There
is innovation at the line-out and the defence is pretty strong too.

“With that crop of young backs coming through – Stuart Hogg, Mark Bennett,
Finn Russell, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – I honestly think there are some big things
coming with this Scottish team.”

Lineen is now head of player acquisition at Scottish Rugby and says that there
are six or seven teams who could win the World Cup but that injuries will be
crucial and has warned teams to look out for “a massive upset” when
they face Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

He said: “The Pacific Island teams are very well coached now, they play
more than one way, they are very streetwise.

“A lot of their players play in the northern hemisphere now.”

Former Scotland prop Wright says that Scotland will need to be prepared for
draining matches at the pool stage but is pleased that they have good gaps between
matches in which to recover.

“Scotland and South Africa (will go through),” he said.

“It’s a tough group. There are three extremely physical games there for
Scotland in South Africa, Samoa and the USA. They are going to have to front
up physically in those three games.

“In years gone by, from Scotland’s perspective, if we had America and
Japan in our group we’d be thinking that’s two guaranteed wins, but I don’t
think it is. These teams – and Tonga, Fiji and Argentina – are big threats to
countries now.

“The good thing is the space between the games. They could potentially
put their strongest team out three weeks in a row.

“They play Japan first, which is probably the least physical but still
a tough game, then it’s America then South Africa and then Samoa. Everybody
expects it to go down to that Samoa game (to clinch a last-eight slot).

“Though never in a World Cup, we have got history of beating South Africa
so I’d be going all out to win that game.”

“I wouldn’t put everything on the Samoa match.”

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