Scotland determined to do well at Rugby World Cup

Vern Cotter has made three changes to his Scotland team

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter says that if his team can get a little more
confidence they can cause upsets in the Rugby World Cup.

Scotland had a disastrous Six Nations in terms of results even though the style
of rugby they were playing had improved under Cotter.

The Six Nations dissappointment came after they had beaten Argentina and pushed
New Zealand close in the Autumn.

Traditionally Scotland have enjoyed some form at Rugby World Cups and their
best finish was fourth in the 1991 tournament and they have reached the knockout
stages of every other World Cup except 2011 when they went out in the pool stages.

Four years ago they were drawn alongside England and Argentina in a tough pool,
but ended up pushing both close after struggling past relative minnows Georgia
and Romania.

The key game for the Scots this time around will be their fourth and final
Pool B clash on October 10 against Samoa at Newcastle’s St James Park.

With previous pool games against Japan on September 23, the United States four
days later and hot favourites South Africa on October 3, also in Newcastle,
the match against Samoa seems to have runner-up spot written all over it should
the formbook be relied upon.

Cotter, the former coach of French Top 14 giants Clermont, might complain of
the limited number of top-flight international players in Scotland, but among
those he has called up are some who can on their day shine as bright as many
others in northern hemisphere rugby.

“We’re showing a little bit more explosiveness around the contact areas
but we need to develop a bit more confidence,” Cotter said after watching
his team go down 19-16 to France in their final warm-up match.

“We want to do really well in this World Cup and the players are determined.”

There is a good lineout with the Gray brothers, Richie and Jonny, and the backs
led by captain Greg Laidlaw and fly-half Finn Russell also feature impressive
centre Mark Bennett, fleet-footed Stuart Hogg and New Zealand-born Sean Maitland.

Apart from Maitland, Cotter has not been afraid of calling up South Africans
Josh Strauss and Willem Nel as well as ex-Highlanders flanker John Hardie, a
controversial inclusion after his arrival from New Zealand just weeks before
the tournament kicks off.

“It was disappointing to lose in Paris because we played well in parts
of the game,” said Bennett after the defeat by the French.

“We were under pressure on our own line and defended great.

“But unfortunately they managed to break through and get the winning try.

“The satisfying thing, though, is that we came out the back of that and
pushed forward. And right up until the dying seconds we looked capable of winning.

“We put ourselves in strong positions so there are a lot of positives
to take into the World Cup.”

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