Scotland braced for game of their lives

London - Scotland's players are prepared for the biggest game of their careers when they face Samoa in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday needing victory to reach the quarter-finals.

Vern Cotter's side overwhelmed Japan and the United States in their opening two games before being given a reality check in a 34-16 defeat against South Africa and know they will have to be at their best to beat dangerous opponents with nothing to lose in Newcastle.

"We are playing this game as a qualifying game," Cotter told reporters on Thursday.

"We are enjoying being in the situation to qualify. We know it's going to be a very tough game. This probably rounds the whole thing up. We've got 80 minutes and we need to put in a very, very good performance."

Samoa may already be out of the reckoning for a place in the last eight, but Scotland will not be underestimating a side who beat the United States 25-16 before losing 46-6 to South Africa and 26-5 against Japan.

"We need to be careful not to fall into any traps," captain Greig Laidlaw said.

"We've got to give credibility and respect to Samoa. If we get our part right, we can cause Samoa problems."

Defeat would end Scotland's involvement in the tournament if Japan beat the United States in their last pool match. A high-scoring draw for Japan could also break Scottish hearts if Scotland lose without a bonus point.

"For a lot of us this is going to be the biggest match of our careers," Scotland number eight David Denton said.

"For most of the people on our team this is our first World Cup, but now we've essentially got a playoff game."

Cotter will be relieved to have first-choice flyhalf Finn Russell available after he missed the South Africa game. The New Zealand-born coach has also recalled hard-running centre Mark Bennett in a near full-strength team.

Samoa coach Stephen Betham, meanwhile, has made seven changes for the Pacific Islanders, fielding new combinations in midfield and among his loose forwards after losing to Japan in their previous game.

Rey Lee-Lo and George Pisi will form a new centre pairing, while Maurie Faasavalu, Jack Lam and Alafoti Faosiliva will be together in the back row for the first time.

Teams

Scotland

15-Stuart Hogg, 14-Sean Maitland, 13-Mark Bennett, 12-Matt Scott, 11-Tommy Seymour, 10-Finn Russell, 9-Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8-David Denton, 7-John Hardie, 6-Ryan Wilson, 5-Jonny Gray, 4-Richie Gray, 3-Willem Nel, 2-Ross Ford, 1-Alasdair Dickinson, 

Replacements: 16-Fraser Brown, 17-Gordon Reid, 18-Jon Welsh, 19-Tim Swinson, 20-Josh Strauss, 21-Henry Pyrgos, 22-Peter Horne, 23-Sean Lamont

Samoa

15-Tim Nanai-Williams, 14-Paul Perez, 13-George Pisi, 12-Rey Lee-Lo, 11-Fa'atoina Autagavaia, 10-Tusi Pisi, 9-Kahn Fotuali'i (captain), 8- Alafoti Faosiliva, 7-Jack Lam, 6-Maurie Faasavalu, 5-Kane Thompson, 4-Teofilo Paulo, 3-Census Johnston, 2-Ma'atulimanu Leiataua,  1-Sakaria Taulafo.

Replacements: 16-Motu Matu'u, 17-Viliamu Afatia, 18-Anthony Perenise, 19-Faifili Levave, 20-Vavae Tuilagi, 21-Vavao Afemai, 22-Patrick Faapale, 23-Ken Pisi

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Rugby
42% - 7811 votes
Cricket
11% - 1966 votes
Football
19% - 3573 votes
Athletics
3% - 464 votes
Boxing
1% - 171 votes
Cycling
2% - 440 votes
Golf
5% - 915 votes
Motorsport
8% - 1542 votes
Tennis
3% - 612 votes
Water sports
1% - 168 votes
American sports
1% - 217 votes
MMA / WWE / UFC
3% - 571 votes
Vote