BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw will go into the World Cup quarter-finals as the tournament’s top scorer.
The scrum-half, who celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday, played a captain’s role in Saturday’s nail-biting encounter with Samoa, accumulating 26 points in the 36-33 victory that earned a last-eight clash with Australia at Twickenham on Sunday.
The Gloucester number nine squirmed over for a 74th minute try after turning down an easy kick at goal to ask for a scrum instead of the penalty awarded by referee Jaco Peyper.
Laidlaw’s successful conversion of his own score took his points tally to 60 for the opening four pool matches, leaving him top of the scoring charts ahead of the knock-out phase.
The former Edinburgh Rugby player has now scored 11 penalties and 11 conversions at the World Cup, as well as his try, which was the fourth of his international career.
Japan’s Ayumu Goromaru is the second-highest scorer at the competition so far with 58 points, whilst Bernard Foley of Australia is in third with 56. Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina, with 51, and South Africa’s Handre Pollard, with 46 points, trail further behind.
Laidlaw’s points haul matches the 60 scored by Chris Paterson in the group stage of the 2003 tournament but is some way short of the 89 managed by Gavin Hastings at the pool phase of the World Cup in 1995.
Hastings actually scored 44 of those points in one game 20 years ago, with four tries, nine conversions and two penalties in the 89-0 hammering of the Ivory Coast.
The legendary full-back also scored one try, one conversion and eight penalties in the 41-5 win over Tonga, before one conversion and four penalties in the 22-19 defeat to France.