30 Sep 2019

Rugby World Cup: Bans fire up Samoans ahead of Scotland match

1:42 pm on 30 September 2019

The shadow of suspensions is hanging over Samoa ahead of their pivotal Rugby World Cup match-up with Scotland tonight.

Samoa coach, Steve Jackson

Samoa coach, Steve Jackson Photo: Photosport

Samoa can take a big step towards the quarter-finals with victory over Scotland in Kobe.

Japan's 19-12 upset win over Ireland has thrown Pool A wide open, with Samoa and the host nation the two remaining unbeaten teams in the group.

Much of Samoa's build-up to the match has surrounded the suspensions of Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu'u who have both been banned for three matches for committing high tackles in their opening win against Russia.

Manu coach Steve Jackson admitted the suspensions had been a major distraction.

"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't had any impact," he said.

"It certainly has emotionally for the two players that had to go through what they went through and then obviously to try and not only pick them up but pick up the group, but it's given every motivation for this group of 23 to go out there and do a job for them."

Jackson said the Scottish camp had also been guilty of stoking the fires through their comments in the media.

Earlier Scotland vice-captain Greg Laidlaw had said the Samoa duo deserved to be banned as they were guilty of clear head shots, describing them as brutal.

"We know there's been things put in the media by people in the Scottish around talking to the referee about our tackles and all that sort of stuff and thanks for doing that because it just motivates our players a lot more," said Jackson.

Samoa made four changes to their starting 15 that beat Russia, with hooker Ray Niuia, number eight and captain Jack Lam, halfback Melani Matavao and winger Belgium Tuatagaloa all to make their first start of the tournament.

Another former captain, Piula Fa'asalele, will make his World Cup debut off the bench just eight weeks after breaking his arm during the Pacific Nations Cup.

Steve Jackson said with so many players ruled out it was great to have two leaders back on deck.

"Both players have done phenomenally well to get on the field.

"I mean the guy beside me (Fa'asalele) had an extremely bad break only eight weeks ago and he's had a rod put in his arm...we had a conversation and the surgeon sort of said he'd be gone and it would be touch and go with him," the Samoa coach said.

"He told me he'd be fine and that's all I need. I mean you talk about two guys with high pain tolerance. I think we've probably got two of the guys in the world that have probably got the most high pain tolerance - what they can put their bodies through is just phenomenal and to have your captain back that just lifts the team."

Samoa have only beaten Scotland once in 11 tests, but the last six encounters have all been decided by 10 points or less.

Jackson cited the forward battle as being of most importance.

"The game is normally won and lost with the forward pack. We're under no illusions what Scotland are going to bring in that area and they should be under no illusions what we're going to bring in that area as well so we're looking forward to the competition and the battle."

Jackson said it was critical that Samoa come out on the right side of the ledger to be able to keep pushing to extend their stay at the Rugby World Cup and allow their suspended players to return.

Flanker Piula Fa'asalele has recovered from a broken arm.

Flanker Piula Fa'asalele has recovered from a broken arm. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made five changes to his starting fifteen from the side beaten 27-3 by Ireland.


Logovii Mulipola, Ray Niuia, Michael Alaalatoa, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Le'aupepe, Chris Vui, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (c), Melani Matavao, Tusi Pisi, Ed Fidow, Henry Taefu, Alapati Leiua, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Tim Nanai-Williams.

Reserves: Seilala Lam, Paul Alo-Emile, Jordan Lay, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell, Pele Cowley, Ulupano Seuteni, Kieron Fonotia.


Allan Dell, Stuart McInally (c), Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell, Sean Maitland, Sam Johnson, Chris Harris, Darcy Graham, Stuart Hogg.

Reserves: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Adam Hastings, Duncan Taylor.

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