Scotland A fancy their chances agaist NZ Maori

NZPA     16 Jun 2006    

The Maori, who scored 12 tries and ran up 74 points in beating the United States in their opening group game, finished top of Pool B with a 27-6 victory over Ireland A in San Francisco, while Scotland topped Pool A after hard-fought wins over England A and Canada.

Jon Callard's England were out to defend the cup and were expected to go head-to-head with the Maori, led by former All Black Jono Gibbes.

But Scotland caused the shock of the tournament by beating England 13-7.

"I don't think anyone outside this Scottish squad thought we were capable of beating England and Canada to qualify for the final," Lawson said.

"It will be exactly the same against New Zealand Maori, but there's nothing the Scots like more than being underdogs for these types of games.

"I said when this tournament started that this group of players was capable of doing something very special in Canada and I think we've already shown that against England.

"It would be good to end a long, hard season by going back to Scotland with the trophy -- it's not often we find ourselves in this situation."

Lawson said a number of players in his team were chasing a spot in the full Scotland side.

"For a lot of us there will be no better chance to push for a World Cup spot -- it's a huge opportunity. The conversations between Frank Hadden (Scottish test coach) and A coach Steve Bates are sure to be free-flowing when both tours are finished. The Scottish test side is in South Africa."

England A will face the Irish A team in the plate final after beating Canada 41-11 in their final pool game.

Meanwhile, Ireland A No 8 Roger Wilson has been suspended for three weeks after his red card in the loss to NZ Maori.

The recommendation was a six-week ban for the Ulsterman but that was halved when Wilson's remorse and previous record were taken into account.

He was dismissed by English referee Andy Small for careless use of the head at a ruck late in the game.

The Maori side for the final are expected to be named tomorrow.