Assistant coach Nathan Hines is hoping Scotland don’t put their supporters through the emotional wringer of previous do-or-die final Rugby World Cup pool games when they face Samoa on Saturday gunning for a quarter-final place.
Hines played in the past three tournaments and on each occasion the Scots went into the last group match needing a win to reach the last eight. In 2003 and 2007 they pulled it out of the fire, but only by the skin of their teeth, against Fiji and Italy. The coin fell the other way in 2011 – Hines’ last appearance in a dark blue jersey – when they were beaten at the death by England and sent spinning out at the pool stages for the first time ever.
“Yes, we had to win the last game, same as now. Hopefully, it doesn’t play out the way those games did,” said Hines at the squad’s Newcastle base. “I can imagine that watching as a spectator, even worse as a coach, having your heart in your mouth.
“But we won’t talk about that because it has nothing to do with the way we are going to perform this weekend. This is a must-win game, like every game but with more riding on it. We just have to concentrate on what we are doing and not the outcome.”
In 2003 at the Sydney Football Stadium, Scotland were staring at disaster as they trailed Fiji 20-15 going into the dying minutes. The Pacific islanders had scored the only two tries of the game, through flying wing Rupeni Caucaunibuca, before prop Tom Smith burrowed over late on to save the Scots’ bacon.
Four years later in France, Scotland were again beaten in the try-count but Chris Paterson’s boot saw them home 18-16 against Italy who missed a penalty to win in the last minutes.