Other than being thrown into the furnace with two-time champions South Africa, Pool B of the 2015 Rugby World Cup looks to have been kind to Scotland on face value, but danger lurks.
With none of Samoa, Japan or the United States making it past the pool stages of the past three World Cups, the Scottish would expect to snap up one of the two qualification spots alongside the Springboks.
This presumption is reflected in South Africa’s 1/66 favouritism to qualify for the knockout phase, with Scotland also odds on at 2/5, though Samoa’s proximity to the latter’s price, at 15/8, hints at a possible obstacle to Thistle progress.
Samoa are a squad blessed with talent British audiences are well used to seeing and they’ll not be making up any numbers on this competition.
NATIONS: SOUTH AFRICA, SCOTLAND, SAMOA, JAPAN, USA
FIRST GAME: SOUTH AFRICA V JAPAN – SEPT 19TH
FAVS: SOUTH AFRICA @ 1/9
OUTSIDERS: SAMOA @ 16/1
NO-HOPERS: USA @ 500/1
Look out for: Bryan Habana
A member of Toulon’s recently victorious European Champions Cup side, Habana is one of the most renowned wingers in world rugby. Now 32, Habana is the Springboks all-time leading international try scorer with 59 to his name and shares a record of eight tries in a single World Cup (2007), with the great Jonah Lomu.
Look out for: Their clash against Samoa
If the rest of the pool plays out as the odds suggest, the final Pool B engagement for Vern Cotter’s side could well be a qualification shootout against their southern hemisphere counterparts at St James’ Park on October 10th.
Look out for: The Northampton Saints theme
Aviva Premiership fans will be all-too familiar with three dynamic members of the Northampton Saints backline. Alongside extremely talented Saints scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i, siblings George and Ken Pisi, at winger and centre respectively, will be a handful for any defence.
Look out for: Michael Leitch
Japan’s skipper is one of three players in the squad who play for Super Rugby franchises and if the Asian side are to record their first World Cup win in 24 years, flanker Leitch’s skill and fearlessness at the breakdown will be integral.
Look out for: A scrum that gives way too easily
The loss of seasoned Stade Francais back-rower Scott LaValla is a really damaging blow to this largely inexperienced pack. Particular weaknesses at prop could see set-pieces become the big outsiders’ Achilles heel in the tournament.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
No confidence issues in the South African coaching department
Rugby World Cup 2015: We can take down All Blacks and they know it, says South Africa coach John McFarland http://t.co/NRy4gr2k8C | Teleg…
— Sport (@sportuk_db) September 14, 2015
Scotland get some endorsement from their First Minister
— Press Association (@PA) September 15, 2015
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.