Reserves: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Michael Leitch, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka.
Laidlaw kicked Scotland into a ninth-minute lead with a penalty, moving past 700 points for his country in the process, but errors at vital moments in the opening half-hour meant a breakthrough try eluded them.
He said: "We obviously watched the Japan game and we've done the numbers".
In the backline, Darcy Graham is given the nod on the right-wing, with Chris Harris forming a centre partnership alongside Sam Johnson.
"We didn't chase anything too early, we knew how tough a game it was", said skipper Stuart McInally.
- Scotland have lost their last two Rugby World Cup matches - they have not lost more consecutive matches at the tournament since a three-match span across the 1995 and 1999 finals. "We have to win our next two games and pick up at least one bonus point or two".
Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell will start a test in the halves together for the 35th time, equaling the Scotland record held by Roy Laidlaw (Greig's uncle) and John Rutherford.
First-half tries from Sean Maitland and Greg Laidlaw set them on their way but Scotland had to dig deep after the break, their pressure finally paying off as referee Pascal Gauzere awarded them two penalty tries.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Horne, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Scotland have been guilty of leaking early tries throughout the year and Townsend was particularly pleased to keep Samoa off the board.
It took Scotland half an hour in Kobe to register its first try of the 2019 World Cup, but after that scores came thick and fast.
- Samoa are looking for back-to-back World Cup victories for the first time since winning their final match of the 2007 tournament (v United States) and their opening match of the 2011 campaign (v Namibia). He comes into the team onto the openside, having impressed during the Six Nations.
The Fijians also had made a dozen changes to the starting lineup between their first and second games, and were caught off guard by Uruguay.
He added: "Do we accept the sanction?"
"We have a big contingent coming over for this game tomorrow". "We don't intentionally go out there to get yellow cards and by no means do we coach it". If we do that, it will be a game against Japan to see who goes into the quarter-finals.
Townsend's men had endured an terrible start to their campaign in a heavy opening defeat to Ireland, while hosts Japan's shock win against the Irish dealt a further blow to Scotland's hopes of advancing from Pool A.