- Scotland through to the quarter-finals following exhilarating contest with Samoa
- The match was the highest scoring contest of the Rugby World Cup so far
- Five tries in a frenetic first half meant Samoa narrowly led by three points at the break
- Skipper Greig Laidlaw scores 26 points as Dark Blues’ come from behind to win
A thrilling encounter that will rival South Africa v Japan as game of the tournament saw Scotland edge out a superb Samoan effort.
The highest scoring match of this year’s competition so far saw Samoa become the first side to score four tries in a match and go on to lose it.
Two points will be stark consolation for their brave efforts, but a tenacious Scotland were dragged into the quarter finals by captain Greig Laidlaw.
The scrum-half contributed 26 points to the Scottish cause making him the highest scoring player at this year’s competition, whilst also resulting in a personal best for him in an international.
Scotland will now face either Wales or Australia in the quarter finals.
A solid start from Samoa saw them take an early lead on five minutes, with Tusi Pisi kicking over after a penalty conceded by Scotland for collapsing the maul.
Scotland levelled just four minutes later, with skipper Greig Laidlaw easily slotting over from the tee.
Samoa responded by exploding down the other end of the pitch, and Tusi Pisi scored and converted a brilliant try from an overlap.
Scotland were then gifted an immediate response, as a loose Samoa pass as they tried to play their way out of their own 22 bounced horribly for the men in white, and Tommy Seymour was able reach highest to nudge the ball forward off a Samoan hand to gather unopposed over the try line and tap down to make it 10-10.
A crazy spell of play continued, with the third try of the match scored in as many minutes. Samoa were the beneficiaries this time, as Scotland’s defence went to sleep to allow bulky hooker Ma’atulimanu Leiataua to run through unchallenged for his first international try.
Pisi missed from the conversion, with the score now 15-10 to the Samoans.
Laidlaw closed the gap back down to two points with a penalty right under the posts on the 20 minute mark.
The frantic nature of the match continued, and the speed at which Samoa attacked once again proved too hot for Scotland to handle, with Reynold Lee-Lo scoring Samoa’s third try of the afternoon.
Once again Laidlaw reduced the deficit to four with another easy penalty on 25 minutes.
However Scotland’s afternoon went from bad to worse with 12 minutes of the half to play, with Ryan Wilson sent to the bin for a stamp on Maurie Faasavalu, as he tried to free his foot from the flanker’s grip.
Pisi pushed them further ahead from the resulting penalty, but Scotland did remarkably well to score another try of their own despite being a man down, with a huge heave allowing John Hardie to crash over the line.
With just seven minutes until half time, the score stood deadlocked at 23-23.
Samoa thought that they had scored the bonus point try through prop Sakaria Taulafo, but after Jaco Peyper had awarded it, the TMO had a word in his ear and pointed out an offside, which chalked the five points off.
With Scotland back to a full complement of players, they came back for the penalty, which Pisi cooly stroked home to push Samoa back in front by three points.
After an equally thrilling opening 10 minutes of the second half, Laidlaw drew Scotland level from the tee following a spell of sustained pressure.
Two minutes later he put the Scots ahead for the first time in the match with his seventh kick from seven of the game. That penalty also made him the highest scoring player of the tournament so far, with 53.
The scrum-half was unsuccessful with a long range effort on 57 minutes, and again he dragged one wide six minutes later, with as many points squandered.
Willem Nel thought that he had scored the decisive try on 72 minutes, but he was brilliantly held up by Samoa captain Kahn Fotuali’I.
Laidlaw sniped with five minutes to play to score a converted try and take his match tally to 26 points, the most he has ever registered in an international match.
The drama continued with a late bonus point try from Samoan substitute Motu Matu’u to once again make it just a three point game with seconds remaining.
Scotland were able to hang on, and Laidlaw booted the ball into touch to send St James Park into delirium.
What comes next
Samoa had nothing to play for but that did not stop them from playing their hearts out in Newcastle. A topsy turvy encounter saw seven tries exchanged, and Samoa were an attacking force the likes of which they had not previously displayed in this Pool. The Pacific Nation were playing free from pressure and they were marvellous going forward. A lack of discipline ultimately cost them the match but they will rightly receive plenty of plaudits from this game. It means that Samoa finish fourth behind Japan, and they will need to qualify the hard way for the next World Cup.
Scotland fought tooth and nail and capitalised on Samoa’s indiscretions, but they must regroup quickly as their shortcomings will be exposed by Australia or Wales in the quarter final. The Scots will be hoping for a slugfest between those two and they will be watching keenly to find out who they face, as they have an opportunity to reach the last four for the first time since 1991.
Man of the match
The captain led by example as a record-breaking 26 points dragged the home nation through to the quarter finals for the seventh time in their history. A try and 19 points from the tee set a new personal record for the scrumhalf in a dark blue jersey, and also made him the leading points scorer in this year’s competition.
Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg (Sean Lamont 70), 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Matt Scott (Peter Horne 76), 11. Tommy Seymour, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw; 8. David Denton, 7. John Hardie, 6. Ryan Wilson (Josh Strauss 53), 5. J Gray (Tim Swinson 62), 4. R Gray, 3. WP Nel, 2. Ross Ford (Fraser Brown 65), 1. Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 17. Gordon Reid, 18. Jon Welsh, 20. 21. Henry Pyrgos,
Samoa: 15. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Paul Perez, 13. George Pisi, 12. Rey Lee-Lo, 11. Fa’atoina Autagavaia (Ken Pisi 71), 10. Tusi Pisi (Patrick Faapale 71), 9. Kahn Fotuali’I (Vavao Afemai, 79); 8. Alafoti Faosiliva (Vavae Tuilagi 59), 7. Jack Lam, 6. Maurie Faasavalu, 5. Kane Thompson (Faifili Levave 29), 4. Teofilo Paulo, 3. Census Johnston (Anthony Perenise 59), 2. Ma’atulimanu Leiataua (Motu Matu’u 73), 1. Sakaria Taulafo (Viliamu Afatia 59)