Dubai: A few days ago, Scotland looked out on their feet having only played one match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
This outing against Samoa on Monday was more like the true contenders we have come to know over the past few years.
The team that have defied logic, power and expectations to hold on to the Calcutta Cup for two years and step up when they were required to make a real statement.
Scotland were sulking with zero points to their name after an opening-match humiliation by Ireland last week, but — possibly revitalised by hosts Japan’s victory over Scotland’s Celtic neighbours — Gregor Townsend’s men came out roaring against Samoa, and the victory never looked in doubt from the opening kick-off.
This was a different Scotland. A determined beast, as opposed to the resigned lot who gave up well before half-time last time out against Ireland.
They now know, as if they needed to be told, that this World Cup will be full of surprises, and they want to make sure they get a piece of the action.
A decisive 34-0 win over Samoa in Kobe — the first shutout of the tournament — secured a bonus point and a refreshing tonic to let the men in blue know they can still make great inroads at this tournament.
That bonus point may well prove vital in a tight Pool A as the Scots still need to face a Japan riding on a crest of a wave after two wins over Russia and Ireland.
But on this showing, Scotland loo to have the measure of anyone, given the way thewy dismissed the hard-hitting Samoans.
A burst of 17 points in eight minutes late in the first half left Scotland 20-0 ahead at the interval.
Scotland wing Sean Maitland and Greig Laidlaw scored tries, both converted by the fly-half who also kicked an early penalty, before full-back Stuart Hogg landed the Scots’ first Test-match drop goal for more than five years from just inside the halfway line.
Scotland secured the four-try bonus point with two penalty tries, Ed Fidow shown a pair of yellow cards that meant the Samoa wing saw red six minutes from time.
“We’re all delighted to get that bonus point. It means we’re still in this World Cup,” said Scotland coach Townsend.
“We’ve two games to go and if we play like we did tonight and improve a couple of aspects, we’re very much in this World Cup.”
Scotland next face outsiders Russia in Shizuoka on October 9, with Samoa playing Ireland in Fukuoka three days later.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and have a look where we went wrong,” said Samoa coach Steve Jackson.
“But you’re only as good as the opposition lets you and we played a very good Scotland side today.”
Scotland 34 Samoa 0
P W D L PD BP Pts
Japan 2 2 0 0 +27 1 9
Ireland 2 1 0 1 +17 2 6
Scotland 2 1 0 1 +10 1 5
Samoa 2 1 0 1 —9 1 5
Russia 2 0 0 2 —45 0 0