Scots out to keep momentum alive
November 25, 2010
Can Scotland keep the feel-good factor alive with victory over Samoa? © Getty Images
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Scotland take their show on the road this weekend, facing a rugged Samoa side at Pittodrie in Aberdeen on Saturday.
Andy Robinson's men are fresh from a famous win over South Africa at Murrayfield and will hope to complete a successful November with victory over the Islanders. Their 49-3 hammering at the hands of the All Blacks has been put to one side but the tourists have shown themselves to be a difficult proposition in narrow defeats to Ireland and England.
After three weeks together they will be confident in the structures and willing to chance their arm in order to make a success of their trip north - Pittodrie could be host to some fireworks come kick-off.
Scotland - Player to Watch: No.8 Richie Vernon has been handed another starting chance after impressing from the bench against South Africa and his pace and power could prove to be a major worry if Samoa opt to play a loose game.
Scotland - Team News: Scotland boss Andy Robinson has made one enforced change to his side as Edinburgh lock Scott MacLeod drops out due to a rib injury. Nathan Hines shifts from blindside to the second-row with Vernon's return at No.8 shifting Kelly Brown to blindside.
Samoa - Player to Watch: He was the best centre on display at Twickenham last weekend and Seilala Mapusua will need to be his usual powerful self both in attack and defence. Scotland boast a hefty midfield pairing but neither possess the playmaking skill of the London Irish man, who could prove to be a game-breaker.
Samoa - Team News: Toulouse tight-head Cencus Johnston has been given the nod ahead of Anthony Perenise in the only change from last weekend.
Key Battle: Last weekend showed that Scotland are organised and can take the points when on offer. Dan Parks is up against quality opposition in Tasesa Lavea and must ensure that their gameplan is watertight against a Samoan side who are not here just to make up the numbers. The Blues fly-half would do well to heed the lessons learned by Wales in allowing Fiji to dictate the pace in Cardiff last weekend.
Trivia: Mapusua has confessed to being a fan of Scottish rugby in the build-up to the Test. "I've actually been a Scottish rugby supporter every year during the Six Nations since I came up here. I think it's because, like the Samoans, they are always punching above their weight, and are always so close and sometimes miss out, but when they pull it off it's a huge achievement for them," he told The Scotsman.
Stats: Only one drop-goal has been scored in the history of the fixture - by Gregor Townsend in 1999 - a stat that may change given Parks' fondness for a pot at the uprights and form with the boot against the Springboks.
"I thought Richie Vernon showed his mettle as an international rugby player when he came on for Scott MacLeod last Saturday and he has a chance to demonstrate those traits from the start." - Scotland boss Andy Robinson.
"There are a lot of players from Samoa who have not seen snow before." - Samoa head coach Fuimaono Tafua gets used to conditions in Aberdeen.
Prediction: Samoa have shown that they can mix it with the north but Scotland's feel-good factor, and defensive structure, is set to trump their efforts for a maiden win this weekend.
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