It was a case of better late than never for Scotland. Needing a bonus point win to keep their World Cup campaign alive it took them until five minutes from time before they got that vital fourth try, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Sean Maitland looked initially to have fumbled the ball short of the line and failed to touch it down. But French referee Pascal Gauzere ruled Ed Fidow had slid in and illegally dislodged the ball from Maitland’s grasp. He awarded a penalty try and sent the Samoan winger, who had earlier been yellow carded, off the pitch.
Maitland who could have played for the South Sea Islanders if he had wanted to, turned out to be Scotland’s hero with his involvement in that touchdown and also scored one of his own.
Sean Maitland scored Scotland’s first try in their do-or-die victory against Samoa in Kobe
His grandad was a proud Samoan born on the island and his cousin is Pele Cowley who was on the Samoan bench. When it became clear he would never represent New Zealand, the land of his birth, Maitland had to pick between Samoa or Scotland where his other grandfather came from.
Scotland were mighty relieved he picked them as it was his try around the half hour mark that firstly settled nerves against a very poor Samoan side. His try would not have pleased the Samoan side of the family, which includes his mum who is half-Samoan, but it brought a smile to the faces of lots of Scotland fans all over the world.
It was set up by man of the match Finn Russell who delivered Scotland the big performance he owed them after being anonymous in the defeat to Ireland in the opening World Cup opening defeat.
Defeat and Scotland would have been out of the World Cup. Now they are very much back in the hunt with matches against Russia and hosts Japan to follow.
The relief was palpable after Maitland collected Finn Russell’s cross-field kick to touch down
Scotland – 34
Tries: Maitland, Laidlaw
Conversions: Laidlaw 2
Drop goals: Hogg
Samoa – 0
The first piece of action came after just three minutes when a break from Scotland winger Darcy Graham broke the Samoan defence but he had no support player on his shoulder to take advantage of his good work.
It was Greig Laidlaw who opened Scotland’s account after nine minutes with a calmly struck penalty.
They lost British and Irish Lion Allan Dell to a head knock three minutes later that led to Gordon Reid, who plays for semi-professional club Ayrshire Bulls, taking his place.
Scotland tried to up the tempo to tire the South Sea Islanders out but they managed to match them tackle for tackle for a spell. They even had a few attacks themselves but never threatened the Scotland try-line.
It took nearly half an hour before the Scotland pack got into a groove, but in their first rumble forward an interception by Tim Nanai-Williams stopped the danger and turned defence into attack for his team.
Two plays later Scotland went ahead after a piece of magic from Russell. Noticing Maitland in acres of space out wide his chip kick was perfectly floated for the Saracens winger to score. Laidlaw added the conversion.
Greig Laidlaw then stumbled over the line for Scotland’s second before nailing the conversion
Three minutes later it was Laidlaw who increased Scotland’s lead. Again it was Russell who was the creator making a half break and playing a clever offload to captain Stuart McInally. Jamie Ritchie was also involved before Laidlaw got the ball and broke through a pretty poor attempt at a tackle to score. Laidlaw converted his own try.
Scotland’s confidence was growing with Hogg putting over a long-range drop goal two minutes before the break. It was the first drop goal by a Scotland player in the Rugby World Cup since Dan Parks against England in 2011.
Samoa tried to take the game to Scotland early in the second half but they made too many handling errors in good positions to cause any problems. On a few occasions they got into good positions only to fumble under pressure.
Scotland simply soaked up the pressure until the Samoans ran out of gas then the big boot of Hogg or Russell would take play back into the opposition half. The humid conditions made the ball slippy and Sam Johnson let it slip out of his control when a chance was on. Then Graham failed to gather the ball following a pass from Russell when he had the try line at his mercy.
Gregor Townsend’s men scored two tries in the first half in search of a bonus point victory
Stuart Hogg lined up a superb drop goal from 45 metres out to further pile the pressure on
Pascal Gauzere awarded Scotland a penalty try after Fraser Brown was unable to ground
It didn’t matter too much as Scotland had their third try approaching the hour mark with their first penalty try. To add to Samoa’s problems Ed Fidow was sent to the bin when he tried to hold Fraser Brown up over the line as he was in an offside position.
Knowing their chances of victory were over the South Sea Islanders started to take risks and throw the ball around.
That played into Scotland’s hands with a quick break catching them cold. The ball was played out to Maitland who looked like he had blown his chances to score by dropping the ball.
But Gauzere ruled that winger Fidow had kneed him illegally when he went over. A penalty try was awarded and Fidow was sent off.
It was job done for Scotland who won easily but still will be relieved to come away with a bonus point win.
Samoa’s Ed Fidow had prevented Brown from touching down after coming in from the side
Fidow was then shown a second yellow late on after stopping Maitland scoring in the corner
An overall view of the Kobe Misaki Stadium as Scotland revived their ailing quarter-final hopes