Scotland now face a very tough task of defeating England in their final pool match if they are to have a hope of qualifying for the quarterfinals of Rugby World Cup 2011. This comes off the back of a heartbreaking 13-12 loss to Argentina, in what was the crunch match of Pool B.
The loss was made even more heartbreaking given the dominance Scotland had held during the game, looking more assured and seemed to have a win in the bag if they just kept plugging away the same way they had. It certainly looked this way holding a 12-6 lead late in the game, with Argentina seemingly incapable of scoring.
But then came a moment of brilliance from the Argentines, or rather a lapse from the Scots, as replacement fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino broke four Scotland tackles to score the decisive try just eight minutes from the end. This took the score to 12-11 with a kick to come, and it seemed Scotland were odds on to retain the lead given Argentina's woeful kicking display.
But as the saying goes, the top players will make the play when it really matters, and Felipe Contepomi kicked the goal which would hand Argentina a 13-12 win and a likely berth in the quarterfinal.
This leaves both Scotland and Argentina tied on 10 points in the overall pool standings, with England in front on 14.
Argentina are all but through with a game against Georgia to come, where they will expect to win relatively comfortably and claim five points taking them to 15.
Scotland however, must face off with Pool B favourites England and win well if they are to keep their World Cup dream alive.
While they still have a chance against England, they will be doing well to win. The thing with Scotland in all their games is that they haven't given opposition defences that much to worry about. In their last two games they haven't crossed the line once, and even against Romania they looked incapable of scoring for large portions of the game.
It just seems unlikely that they will beat England at playing a tight game. In Max Evans they have a winger who has looked very dangerous, but they don't seem to be able to put him away and make full use of his abilities. But elsewhere they lack any sort of flair and the English should have no problems containing them.
They are strong defensively, but will have to deal with far more from the England back line than they have had to so far this World Cup and there will be question marks over whether they can or not. So far they have played three teams who have looked to play a tight game and have coped okay. Romania at times threw the ball wide and exposed some weaknesses in the Scotland defence, and it seems likely that the likes of Ashton, Tuilagi and Foden will be able to do the same. That is, if England choose to play that way.
If they do opt to play a tight game, as they so often do, it will be a much closer game. But one would still have to back an experienced England team to beat a Scotland team that hasn't really shown much since arriving in New Zealand.
Although in saying all of that, it isn't beyond Scotland.
If they muscle up and defend, they give themselves a chance. They have some good players and need to make sure they get the most out of them. And besides, World Cups are notorious for going against the run of play. Scotland have never failed to progress past pool play, maybe they'll find it within themselves to shock the world next Saturday night.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!