Stuart Hogg has admitted Scotland can’t afford another sluggish start in tomorrow’s crunch World Cup clash against South Africa.
And the full-back rejected the suggestion they underestimated Japan and USA in their first two pool games. The Scots rescued themselves in both contests after first-half horror showings with revivals that led to two bonus-point victories in Gloucester last Wednesday and Leeds on Sunday.
The Lions star accepts a more ruthless streak is needed right from the kick-off if they are to challenge the two-time world champion Springboks at Newcastle United FC’s Sports Direct Arena, otherwise they could easily find themselves 20-30 points in arrears.
“If we play like we have in our first two 40 minutes of this World Cup we could easily find ourselves 20-30 points down early doors ,” said Hogg.
“For us, it’s about starting the game well in what is a massive match if we want to remain top of the group.
“We’ve never been a quick-starting team. I don’t have a reason why we’ve started so slowly but a few of the boys are maybe nervous at the start because a lot of us haven’t played in a World Cup before. We just can’t let South Africa get an early lead as it will be incredibly tough for us to claw them back.”
Despite their shortcomings against Japan and USA, Hogg emphasised the team are scoring tries and lots of them. After a 6 Nations where the Scots managed just six touchdowns, so far in two World Cup pool games the team have racked up ten tries and two bonus-point victories. “For the second game in a row we scored five tries and you can’t ask more than that really,” he added.
“We know what we’re capable of and I think a lot more people realise that now, too. We’d have bitten your hand off for this start, being top of the pool with ten points, and the aim is to keep it going.”