Scotland still need to win every game, says Laidlaw
Greig Laidlaw admits Scotland are not out of the woods just yet despite kick-starting their World Cup campaign against Samoa.
The Dark Blues thrashed the Pacific Islanders 34-0 on Monday to pick up the bonus point that keeps them in the race for the quarter-finals.
But with Gregor Townsend’s men needing two wins and at least one bonus point from their last two games against Russia and Japan, vice-captain Laidlaw knows there is still much work to be done yet.
It is 20 years since a Scotland side last recorded three straight wins in a single competition and equalling that feat will not be easy.
Russia, who are the opposition next Wednesday, may currently be ranked 20th in the world and sit bottom of Pool A without a point after losing both their opening two games against the hosts and Samoa, but they have proved to be tricky customers to overcome.
And the Scots need no warning about the threat posed by the Japanese after seeing the Brave Blossoms stun an Ireland side who have already dished out a painful mauling to Townsend’s team in their first match in Yokohama.
Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Laidlaw said: “We knew the circumstances and that if we didn’t perform against Samoa we were packing our bags and going home.
“That was the pleasing part in the way we performed. But we have to step it up again now. We are still in the same situation where we need to win every game.
“The Samoa game is done now, it is all about the next game.
“Russia have been good so far in this tournament. Everyone has been impressed by them and so have we. That patience is going to be vitally important for the boys that are selected in the 23.
“Whoever gets the opportunity, it is going to be vitally important to get that performance right and give us momentum going into the last game.”
But Laidlaw is delighted to see the doom and gloom of last week lift after his side shrugged off the misery left by their woeful display against the Irish.
“We feel a bit better, obviously,” he said. “Monday was a big game for us, as every game is now, and it was excellent we came through that in the manner we did. We can take a lot of confidence from the way we performed and how we constructed the game.
“It was definitely up there in terms of complete performances.
“Each game is going to be different. Russia have been impressive so far so we have got to get that game right.
“Their set-piece has been excellent. Their scrummaging, they are obviously strong there. They’ve come to enjoy themselves and play rugby and that’s really shone through in their performances.
“I thought they played really well against Samoa so we’re going to have to play well to get the right result.”
Laidlaw has started both of Scotland’s first two games but with only four days’ recovery time between the clash with Russia and Japan, he is likely to be stood down for the first of those dates in Shizuoka.
However, the former captain reckons there will be plenty of willing volunteers ready to play in both matches if Townsend decides he cannot take any chances with his team line-up.
“You’re going to be tired if that is the case,” he said. “But we’ve got an excellent squad here and it’s going to take a squad effort for us to get the two strong performances we need to get through.
“We’ve got boys that are hungry to play and I think if it comes to it you could do it because we want to get into the quarter-finals.”