Scots desperate to overcome slow starts

Scotland coach Vern Cotter would do almost anything to get his side into the World Cup quarter-finals, but he has ruled out trying to buy Samoa off with a few beers.

It’s make or break for Scotland when they play Samoa in their final Pool B match in Newcastle next weekend.

After the Springboks brought their charmed start to the tournament to a shuddering halt with a 34-16 win on Saturday, Scotland went from the top of the table to fighting for survival with one game left.

They have two wins with the tough Samoans to play while the Springboks and Japan, also with two wins, have the bottom-of-the-table United States ahead of them.

The Scots, though, do have two more points than the Japanese so a win would suffice.

Samoa have only pride to play for after going down to Japan 26-5 on Saturday and that’s what makes them dangerous, Cotter said, knowing a loss could see the Scots miss the playoffs for the second World Cup in succession.

The 53-year-old New Zealander reeled off a litany of things to do to avoid a slip up against Samoa, but bribing them with a few beers, while a good idea, was a non starter.

Slow starts were the biggest issue facing the Scots, acutely reflected in their performance against South Africa where they slipped behind 20-3 before getting out of first gear and twice closing within seven points.

“We’ll certainly be finding out why we don’t seem to have the confidence to start well,” he said.

“We need to develop that confidence to go out and play ruthlessly from the start.”

Captain Greig Laidlaw agreed the lack of early intensity was hurting the team.

“Both Japan and the US flew out heavy at us from the line and in defence,” he said.

“But we probably are starting slightly slow and we need to fix that before the Samoa game because clearly they are going to come out of the blocks very quickly at us and we need to make sure we get an 80 minute performance.”

Cotter said his side needed to develop more “self belief” for the crunch game against the determined Pacific islanders.

“I expect the Samoans would like to finish the competition well and we expect them to,” he said.

“I could get our manager to send them a couple of crates of beer to try and convince them (not to) but I don’t think that will happen.

“I think they will want to finish well and we’re certainly preparing ourselves for a fired up Samoan team.”

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