On the plus side, Scotland have only ever lost one game to Samoa. On the down side, they won the last two meetings by the too-close-for-comfort scorelines of 44-38 and 36-33, and could do without the kind of pressure margins of that slender ilk would create in the closing minutes here. Because this is a match that Scotland, humbled by the Irish in their first outing of the World Cup, cannot afford to lose. Do so and one of Japan and Samoa, who meet in their next match, would certainly be out of reach and Ireland, despite their own defeat to Japan, would swiftly follow them. “We watched the Japan game, we’ve done the numbers and we know the ramifications,” says Scotland’s captain, Stuart McInally.
Gregor Townsend makes five changes to the team that lost to Ireland. “The reality is we now have to win our next three games to make it out of our pool, so the knockout stages for us begin this Monday night,” he says. This is the first do-or-die, win-or-bust game of the World Cup, and it should be a cracker. Here are the teams:
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw, Blade Thomson, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Willem Nel, Stuart McInally (capt), Allan Dell.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Duncan Taylor.
Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Alapati Leiua, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow, Tusi Pisi, Melani Matavao, Jack Lam (capt), TJ Ioane, Chris Vui, Kane Le’aupepe, Teofilo Paulo, Michael Alaalatoa, Ray Niuia, Logovii Mulipola.
Replacements: Seilala Lam, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Ulupano Seuteni, Kieron Fonotia.