THE CRUNCH GAME
SCOTLAND V SAMOA
South Africa have probably got the pool sewn up and second place should likely be decided when Scotland play Samoa at St James Park.
These two are evenly matched – the former is ranked 10 and the latter nine – and this game could go down to the wire. The Scots are desperately trying to be more accurate and cohesive under Kiwi coach Vern Cotter whole Samoa want to add set piece solidity and an element of structure to their natural flair and raw athleticism. A fascinating contest looms.
POOL DARK HORSE
Japan have been bombing along nicely in the last two years and have played consistent and engaging rugby. What they lack in size and power, they make up for in speed and innovation and their world ranking of 11th means they will have Scotland and Samoa a little nervous. Have the potential to cause an upset.
NZRW PREDICTION HOW POOL WILL FINISH
We are going to back the Boks to clean sweep. They will be too good for everyone else. Scotland and Samoa will have to play well to see off Japan and to a lesser extent the USA.
That leaves everything hanging on the outcome of the clash in Newcastle. Scotland might end up better fancied by the bookmakers and will also believe they should be favourites...but we are going to back Samoa.
Partly because of our respect for our Pacific brothers and partly because we believe Samoa are going to enjoy a good tournament and make a statement. We believe the pool will finish like this:
1. SOUTH AFRICA 2. SAMOA 3. SCOTLAND 4. JAPAN 5. USA
crunch game: The game between Scotland and Samoa should settle second place.