Scotland vs Samoa Test Preview

Scotland hope to extend an almost-perfect Test record against Samoa when the sides kick-off a four-nation tournament Saturday in Durban.

Although three positions below the seventh-placed Pacific islanders on the IRB world rankings, the Scots have won seven of eight previous internationals between the teams and drawn the other.

A Scottish victory at Kings Park in the Indian Ocean city would make it seven on the trot after winning 28-6 at Murrayfield in 1991 and drawing 15-15 at the same Edinburgh stadium four years later.

Samoa came closest to ending the Scottish dominance when losing 17-16 in Apia last year, and hopes of doing even better this weekend could hinge on how well they jelled this week after a traumatic start to the build-up.

As Scotland jetted into South Africa last weekend after an encouraging third place in the Six Nations championship this year, Samoa were being whipped 74-14 in Johannesburg by demoted Super 15 outfit the Golden Lions.

The islanders missed late-arriving stars, but the way in which they conceded 10 tries and fell apart after trailing by 13 points at half-time must have infuriated coach Stephen Betham.

A Lions team not good enough to be among the five South African Super 15 competitors ran rings around unfit, hesitant and careless Samoans, whose outclassed pack included 138-kilogram tight-head prop James Johnston.

“That was our worst nightmare,” captain and centre Paul Williams said of the mauling. “I never imagined this could happen and we have a lot of pride to restore against Scotland.”

James Johnston must settle for a place on the bench in Durban, and Samoa retained only six of the side beaten 22-14 away to France last November in their previous Test.

Centre Johnny Leota, fly-half Tusi Pisi, tight-head prop Census Johnston, lock Filo Paulo, flank Ofisa Treviranus and No. 8 Taiasina Tuifu’a survive from the Stade de France starters.

Scotland, who are in the same 2015 World Cup group as Samoa and June 15 opponents South Africa, chose three new caps as Australia-born coach Scott Johnson seeks greater squad depth.

Full-back Greig Tonks, centre Alex Dunbar and hooker Pat MacArthur are the debutants in a team less affected by the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia than England, Ireland and Wales.

Only three Scots — full-back Stuart Hogg, right wing Sean Maitland and lock Richie Gray — made the touring party despite a better-than-expected Six Nations finish.

“We have 25 Tests before the World Cup and are not going to give jerseys away,” said Johnson, “but we cannot be exposed by injury issues and the best way to prevent that is to give players opportunities.”

Samoa play Italy and Scotland meet South Africa next Saturday in the second round with four points for a win, two for a draw, one for losing by less than eight points, and one for scoring at least four tries in a game.

The novel tournament concludes on June 22 at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria with a final between the first and second-place teams, preceded by a third-place play-off.

The Bookies have given Scotland a 2 point start for this Match – with an offer of a FREE $150 BET.

Teams

Scotland

Greig Tonks; Sean Lamont, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Tom Heathcote, Greig Laidlaw; Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (capt), Alasdair Strokosch; Alastair Kellock, Grant Gilchrist; Euan Murray, Pat MacArthur, Ryan Grant

Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Alasdair Dickinson, Geoff Cross, Jim Hamilton, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor

Samoa

James So’oialo; Alapati Leiua, Paul Williams (capt), Johnny Leota, Alesana Tuilagi; Tusi Pisi, Jeremy Su’a; Taiasina Tuifu’a, Jack Lam, Ofisa Treviranus; Daniel Leo, Filo Paulo

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