Samoa look to end Scottish dominance

2013-06-08 00:00

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

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 King’s Park 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 gelled 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 kg 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.”

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, flyhalf 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.

Fullback 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 — fullback 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.”

International fixtures this weekend:

Today: Japan v Wales, New Zealand v France, Queensland Reds v British & Irish Lions, Scotland v Samoa, South Africa v Italy, Argentina v England.


Scotland: 15-Greig Tonks, 14-Sean Lamont, 13-Alex Dunbar, 12-Matt Scott, 11-Tim Visser, 10-Tom Heathcote, 9-Greig Laidlaw, 8-Johnnie Beattie, 7-Kelly Brown (captain), 6-Alasdair Strokosch, 5-Alastair Kellock, 4-Grant Gilchrist, 3-Euan Murray, 2- Pat MacArthur, 1-Ryan Grant.

Replacements: 16-Steve Lawrie, 17-Alasdair Dickinson, 18-Geoff Cross, 19-Jim Hamilton, 20-Ryan Wilson, 21-Henry Pyrgos, 22-Peter Horne, 23-Duncan Taylor.

Samoa: 15-James Sooialo, 14-Alapati Leiua, 13-Paul Williams (captain), 12-John Leota, 11-Alesana Tuilagi, 10-Tusiata Pisi, 9-Jeremy Sua, 8-Taiasina Tuifua, 7-Jack Lam, 6-Ofisa Treviranus, 5-Daniel Leo, 4-Teofilo Paulo, 3-Census Johnston, 2-Wayne Ole Avei, 1-Logovii Mulipola

Replacements: 16-Maatulimanu Leiataua, 17-Sakaria Taulafo, 18-James Johnston, 19-Faatiga Lemalu, 20-Junior Poluleuligaga, 21-Brando Vaaulu, 22-Seilala Mapusua, 23-Alafoti Faosiliva

Kick-off: 2.15 pm. Referee: Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).

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