International Rugby: Scotland v Samoa Preview

Scotland will be looking to build on what's been an impressive 2017 when they take on the Samoans on Saturday the 11th of November.

Arguably the most improved of the tier one nations, Scotland, will be looking to lay down a marker for their Autumn Internationals when they take on the Samoans at the Scottish home of rugby, Murrayfield. The hosts have a daunting November schedule ahead of them with games against New Zealand and Australia set to follow this weekend's clash with the Islanders.
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Scotland v Samoa | Saturday 11 November | Murrayfield | 16:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Scotland 1/20 | Draw 53/1 | Samoa 7/1
Scotland (-19.5) 9/10 | Samoa (+19.5) 9/10 

Well, those who thought Vern Cotter leaving the helm of the Scottish national rugby side would result in a massive drop in form have been forced to eat their words with the 'Scots enjoying a magnificent start to life under new head coach Gregor Townsend. The former international pivot has already overseen Scotland's third-ever victory over the Wallabies in Australia and has got his side playing a lovely brand of rugby.

It's not just at national level where the 'Scots have excelled this year with the Glasgow Warriors dominating the inaugural Pro 14. This upturn in fortunes for both the national side and the Warriors should come as no surprise as the Scottish Rugby Union has, for the past half-decade, been working hard on developing their youth structures, This emphasis on youth has reaped great rewards dividends with the likes of Finn Russel, Stuart Hogg and Richie Gray's rise to prominence illustrating this fact.

The 'Scots have also got a helping hand from South African Rugby over the past few years with the likes of WP Nel and Josh Strauss bringing an extra dimension to the Scottish pack. The latter has fallen out of favour with the national coaches but could receive a recall with back rower Ross Ford being ruled out through injury. It does look like Edinburgh flanker Magnus Bradbury has the inside line, however,

Speaking of all things South African, the 'Scots will welcome back Huw Jones this week. The former Western Province centre enjoyed a stellar Currie Cup campaign and is in red-hot form. He really is a magnificent centre and his apprenticeship in Cape Town means he has a different skill set to his compatriots.

The men from the Pacific Islands had a decent time of it during the June International window. They started their mid-year itinerary with a heavy 78-0 defeat to the All Blacks but followed that up with a solid showing against an understrength but still dangerous Welsh side, going down by just two points in Apia.

The narrow loss to the Welsh would be the highlight of Samoa's year however as they struggled in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup losing to both Tonga (30-26) and Fiji (16-38) on the way to claiming the tournament's wooden spoon accolade.

If the Samoans are to arrest their form then they are going to need their star players to come to the party. Tusi Pisi and Tim Nanai-Williams will need to up their game tenfold while centre Ray Lee-Lo will need his midfield partner Keiron Fonotia to start running better support angles as the duo have looked out of synch for most of the year.

The teams

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Darryl Marfo
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Chris Harris

Samoa - To be announced

Verdict: Scotland (-19.5) 9/10 
I fear for this Samoan side. They have a hectic tour which includes a match against a much-improved Romanian side and a date with England at Twickenham. I think they are in for three consecutive defeats, starting with a loss in excess of 20 points to the 'Scots. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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