Scotland blitz Russia to set up crunch qualification fixture with hosts Japan
Gregor Townsend’s team needed to take maximum points from their clash with the Bears in Shizuoka to give themselves the best possible chance of making the quarter-finals, and they did just that thanks to a stunning nine-try demolition job.
George Horne became the first Scottish scrum-half to score a hat-trick after Adam Hastings put them ahead with a quick-fire early double.
George Turner, Tommy Seymour, John Barclay and Stuart McInally also scored in a resounding win that now leaves Scotland needing victory over the hosts in Yokohama in four days’ time to seal their place in the last eight.
Townsend was trusting his second string to get the job done as they chased the bonus-point win that would keep them in the hunt for qualification.
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Only Darcy Graham was retained from the side that beat Samoa last week as Townsend made 14 changes to his line-up. Barclay returned to the back row to skipper the side, while full-back Blair Kinghorn, centre Peter Horne, lock Ben Toolis and hooker Turner were all given their first taste of action since the tournament got under way.
Scotland got the early breakthrough they were hoping for 12 minutes in as Hastings exploited a chink in the Russian line to score the first try. And the stand-off scored again six minutes later, chasing his own kick through to dot down. Scotland made it three tries in eight minutes as Dmitry Perov’s suicidal pass on his own try line was intercepted by George Horne, who gleefully finished off to ensure Townsend’s team went in at half-time 21-0 up.
Scotland kept up their scoring blitz to secure the extras they needed. Horne went over four minutes after the restart before completing his hat-trick just before the hour mark, while Turner and Seymour also took advantage of the Russians’ tiring legs to score.
There was still time for Barclay and McInally to get in on the scoring act too as the Scots completed a resounding 61-0 win. Victory over Japan on Sunday – while denying the Brave Blossoms a bonus point – will be enough to see Townsend’s men into the last eight.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 9, 2019
“I’m just glad we got through the game with no injuries, from what I hear. It takes a lot of effort to break down a team like Russia,” said the coach. “The players in that first 20 minutes had to put in that effort and then the holes started appearing and we exploited them well. Stage one of a two-stage week is completed.
“It will be huge (versus Japan). Our focus now is on recovery, making sure that we get our preparation right for that game, and we get the selection right. We have been planning this game for a while. We have watched a lot of Japan, I know they will have watched a lot of us too.
“And they have had big rests going into all their games and they have had another big rest into this one. We’ve just got to make sure we deliver our best performance. We will have to because Japan are a very good team.”
– Press Association
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