Australia v Scotland: Rory Lawson sounds warning for Scots

Scotland and Samoa players
Scotland beat Samoa 36-33 but conceded three tries in the first half
Rugby World Cup quarter-final: Australia v Scotland
Date: Sunday, 18 October Venue: Twickenham, London Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland & 5live; live text coverage on BBC Sport website

Former captain Rory Lawson has warned Scotland they must make a fast start to Sunday's World Cup quarter-final to stand a chance of beating Australia.

Vern Cotter's side meet the unbeaten Wallabies at Twickenham for a place in the semi-finals.

Lawson, 34, is concerned Scotland have conceded the first try in each of their four matches in the tournament.

"Too often in this World Cup, Scotland have struggled to get the scoreboard ticking," Lawson told BBC Scotland.

"For Scotland, the key focus has to be getting out of the blocks. You have got to get out quickly and actually get into the game.

"They've normally gone behind to early scores and if you do that against this Australia side it'll be incredibly tough to get back into the game."

'As good an Australia side as there's been'

Rory Lawson playing for Scotland against Australia in 2009
Lawson played in Scotland's 9-8 win over Australia in 2009

The Wallabies have impressed in this tournament, running in 15 tries and bravely keeping Wales out in their final Pool A win, despite defending for nearly 10 minutes with 13 men.

Former scrum-half Lawson acknowledges the size of the task facing the Scots.

"I think this is as good an Australia side as there's been," he explained.

"For me, you've got to get your basics right, you've got to get the foundation game right around the set piece.

"England were talking about being able to target their set piece and Australia showed how strong a set piece they have.

"They've got a very good lineout maul, you've got to stop that. They've arguably got the most exciting backline attack at this World Cup and they're the form team."

Cotter will be waiting more in hope than expectation that appeals against three-week bans for forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray will be successful.

Scotland players Ross Ford, Jonny Gray and Richie Gray in action against Samoa
Ford and Gray are facing three-week bans

Lawson feels for both players, but it is 31-year-old hooker Ford's predicament that draws the most sympathy after he was cited for a tackle in Saturday's final Pool B win over Samoa.

"I think best case scenario, it'll go to one week," he said of the suspension.

"I hope I'm wrong and I hope I see it overturned, but ultimately it would arguably end Ross Ford's World Cup career.

"Jonny Gray's got a lot of years ahead of him, but it would be a very sad way for Ross Ford to have to finish his career, not in international rugby, but at the World Cup."

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