RWC ’15: Scotland 45-10 Japan

Scotland went into this match in the unlikely position of being bookies favourites but with nearly everyone else predicting Japan would hand them a spanking similar to the one dished out to the Springboks. Japan were also under pressure to prove that game was no flash in the pan after a short turnaround from the weekend.

In the end Scotland ran riot, putting 5 tries past Japan as the pressure in the final half hour told and Finn Russell, Matt Scott and Mark Bennett cut loose.

It was a different story from the first half where Japan had produced what was now expected of them, hauling back Greig Laidlaw’s twin penalties with a textbook driving lineout move that was deployed to devastating effect for the game’s first try, Mafi coming up with the ball from a heap of bodies with precious few navy shirts in it.

A bizarre armless headbutt to Grant Gilchrist’s knee gave Laidlaw another penalty. The Kingsholm resident is often criticised for his box kicks and while his early efforts were poorly chased, they did highlight that Japan were making the errors of handling and concentration so absent last Saturday.

After more guddling gave Laidlaw his fourth from four penalties, Japan came charging back in an effort to gain parity but the Scottish defence managed to contain them until the lively Tommy Seymour broke free from a turnover. Only defensive mischief by Matsushima stopped a likely try so he was sent to the bin for his efforts by referee John Lacey.

For a change Laidlaw missed that penalty, and Japan spurned one of their own in favour of another crack at the lineout, but Scotland made a mess of their attempt and forced a knock on. After Lacey penalised Al Dickinson at the scrum, Japan took the kick this time but the usually excellent Goromaru skewed it wide.

Restored to fifteen men, Japan came storming back at the Scottish line but even an NFL style dive over the top of ruck by Mafi couldn’t get the ball down. A massive Russell clearance gave Scotland a final attacking chance of their own, but at the attack from the ensuing lineout he rashly went for the miss pass when quick hands would have drawn in the Japanese defenders and a superb covering tackle by Goromaru on Seymour kept the Scots out and the scoreboard tight.

HT: Scotland 12-7 Japan

Japan coach Eddie Jones said that if his men were still in it at half time they’d run Scotland ragged and go on to win, so the match was fascinatingly poised.

The Scots had a shaky start as Japan were faster out of the blocks and immediately pushed the game deep into the Scots half. Unfortunately for Japan, their talismanic back row Mafi was stretchered off which perhaps gave Laidlaw a second stab at a team talk, because from then on it was almost like watching a different game.

Great interplay between Scott and Hardie on a charge up the touchline gave Scotland a ruck on the Japanese line. With his attacking line set up on the right, Laidlaw popped it to Hardie on the blindside and he dove over for the try to put the cherry on an extremely impressive performance.

The celebrations were a little short lived as Richie Gray (fresh on) misjudged the restart and nearly gifted Matsushima the softest of tries. Luckily the scramble defense led by Hardie and Scott was up to the challenge and the threat passed.

With only seven points the difference and memories of the Japanese refusal to let the Springboks build any sort of margin fresh in the memory, Scotland needed more and Mark Bennett delivered, cutting a great line on a popped inside ball from Russell and grabbing the first of his two tries. With big screen replays giving referees reason to reconsider everything this World Cup, Laidlaw popped the conversion over before anyone could take a look at Bennett’s left foot hovering dangerously close to the dead ball line as he touched down.

Things improved further moments later as the Japanese were suddenly forced to chase a game they had until recently been very much involved in, and Seymour picked off an interception (as he does) in a near carbon copy of Hogg’s try against Italy in 2013. Suddenly it was looking rosy at 31-10 and from “nae chance”, Scotland now had the bonus point in sight.

Bennett capped a very positive second half with a great step and some smart running beating several defenders and sealing the bonus point with a brilliant solo try.

The final ten minutes of the game became a bit of a birthday party for 23 year old Finn Russell who pulled out plenty from his ever-growing bag of trips including one offload to Matt Scott that Gregor Townsend would have been proud of, before hot-stepping over for a try of his own as Japan were unable to keep pace.

Questions should and will be asked of the gaps in turnaround faced by some of the lesser teams, but Scotland now face a four day switch to Leeds for the next match with the USA, and actually sit somewhere near the bottom of the table for average rest time between games – only Australia have it worse.

Meanwhile, on the only table that matters, Scotland sit atop Pool B for now at least.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Greig Laidlaw picked up the plaudits for his points haul but John Hardie put in a phenomenal amount of work in both attack and defence as well as contributing heavily to the try that turned the tide. We can see now why he’s here.

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50 comments on “RWC ’15: Scotland 45-10 Japan

  1. Matto on

    Pheeeeeew. I didn’t enjoy the first half at all. Started enjoying it a bit at 55 mins, and was relatively relaxed for the last quarter. Credit to Japan, I like their style, and were it not for the sharp turnaround on their part, it would have been closer. However, the boys done good, and you can’t ask for more than 5 points. Thought Hardie had a huge influence, Russell had some great touches, Bennett was wonderful too. Lots of good performances and a mainly composed win, which was what was required. Not sure that many teams could have done much against that first try off the maul. Good start, now to get it together for Sunday.

  2. pragmatic optomist on

    Good performance from Scotland. Defensively good in the first 50 minutes, but showed next to nothing in attack. Not sure why teams can gradually pin us back in this way, or why we have difficulty breaking the shackles.
    As is normal, we did put pressure on ourselves uneccessarily. Hogg dropping a kick, Ford overthrowing a line out, kicking the ball to japan out of our side of a ruck. Geting into position for the kick off also seemed to be a big problem for Richie Gray when he came on. Not sure why his positioning was so bad.
    Simple mistakes which will kill us against better teams.
    Doesn’t detract too much from a very good overall team performance. The first up tackling was very good. Scrum was solid, lineout generally good, especially with squint throws from Japan ignored all afternoon.
    Thought Hardie played well, as did Denton. Scott and Bennett looked like a centre pairing to me for the first time.
    Just a word about Laidlaw. His calling the mark from a penalty which bounced off the post showed his presence of mind. Others would have panicked.
    A very good day eventually.

  3. 1.8T on

    YAAAAS! Didn’t enjoy the first half much but the second was sublime albeit against clearly tiring team. Thought we should have kicked to the corner when they went down to 13, instead we missed the kick and spent pretty well the rest of the half pinned back in our own area and didn’t exploit the extra man at all. It’s easy when you rack up such a convincing scoreline to forget any problems so I’ll go all negative and point out bits I wasn’t so happy with. Defence against mauls is still flakey, I will give the Japanese credit for their try though that was a textbook maul rather than any particular failing by us. The Japanese were getting super quick ball at times, better teams will punish that. Still a bit of whiteline fever, a few times there were men out wide and overlaps were not noticed. We got turned over in isolation a few too many times, support play for line breaks is much improved but needs to be better if we are to score consistently against stronger teams.

    That’s enough of that and onto the good bits.

    Backs: looked very sharp. IMO this is now definitely our strongest combo of backs. Scott and Bennett were excellent, Lamont now he is approaching his century finally seems to have learnt how to pass properly and made a few decent runs. Russell and Hogg I thought had good games, nothing outstanding but solid, Russell showed excellent composure and awareness for his try. I’ll happily admit Laidlaw had a cracker, service was quick, kicking (even the box kicks) was good and he looked like more of a captain IMO than he has done.

    Forwards: Scrum was strong, bodes well for us against SA as Japan had reasonable parity with them at the weekend. Thought the backrow was good, Hardie in particular was superb, he was all over the park. Jonny Gray was brilliant as ever, Gilchrist I think deserves his place over Richie Gray. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on big Richie but I know he can deliver a lot more than he is currently. Ford, another one who I give a fair bit of stick had a good game especially in the loose, I only recall one lineout misfire. I would still prefer him to have a crack at hooking the ball now and again, fair enough today where we had the upper hand in the scrums and were getting a fair amount of penalties off them but I like Japans attituide, get the ball out and away ASAP then the scrum can collapse if it likes.

    All in all a damn good start, I have to say I think we probably had the ref on our side for some of the calls, but I’ll take that, it doesn’t happen very often. Roll on the yanks!

    • pragmatic optomist on

      He certainly deserves a rest FF. He’s too important to take chances with as our only true ‘open side’.
      I’d have thought he’d be on the bench in case the game proves close.

  4. MK on

    Decent game from us. Watched a few of the opening games and a fair few teams have looked rusty so maybe explains why it took us a while to get going. Still we have to watch the typical unforced errors, again we score but hand points back to the team. Finally is this, Glasgow, Edinburgh forums for me from now in the RWC. Reading other forums is infuriating!! Don’t get me wrong respect is earned and since professionalism we’ve been pretty terrible results wise and performances so a bit of stick is fair but Jesus, thought there would be a bit of credit, “the scheduling is unfair”, “Japan were tired”, “poor Japan”, “Scotland will get smashed by Samoa and SA playing like that”, “Scotland are one dimensional and generally terrible” etc. Best comment on Scrum V from the Welsh “Scotland make the sport I love unpleasureable to watch”..coming from a fan of a team which has made Warrenball and Halfpenny penalty kicks its core playing ethos!!! Pleased by the result but cheesed off by the general reaction of fans. Really hope we make them eat their words.

    • John Mc on

      Got your drift, MK, but not your target. You were talking about non-Ed, non-Glas forums I presume, and not this or other ones populated by Scotland fans? I never read the other forums. We’ve had some interlopers on this forum before, some of them knowledgeable and polite – others less so. Actually when you live in England like I do and read The Times, you get used to reading rubbish like that. Keep the faith and away frae they bad boys on other forums!

      • MK on

        Yeah sorry, Scrum v, planet rugby, some of the Irish teams forums. Just going to stick to sites of fellow Scots fans. I live in England too so I know what you mean! I just lurk on those sites and don’t comment, just be verbal sparring otherwise!!

    • Matto on

      Aye, I’ve perused those listed too. There are plenty out there that don’t rate us, and I suppose you could say that’s fair given our ability to flatter to deceive over the last few seasons. I find the focus on ‘imports’ particularly tiresome, though I think that that possibly reflects the growing threat perceived of our team. We’re really not in that (imports) boat to a greater extent than many other nations, and I can’t help but feel that it’s a fear of our capabilities and an attempt to undermine us that’s at the root of it. To be honest, if it’s just a few fan(nie)s from other nations, then fair enough, but it’s the incessant reference to it on the BBC and the papers, both national and eh unional, that winds me up a bit.

  5. DaveR on

    Just good to see us rip a tiring 2nd tier side apart for once. I remember the last world cup where we singularly failed to do so. Japan were no mugs – we weren’t perfect but our defense was good, some of the individual touches of our backs was sheer genius.. Look at France Romania, Australia-Fiji – write this off to 4 day turn around fatigue at your peril!

  6. Notrocket science on

    Russell was absolute class. Lest that be forgotten in all this. Every time he had the ball you knew it would be something. Best fly half since Townsend no question. Give him kicking duties now and make him captain.

    Bennett also a real talent, his junk inside for the second try, was campese esque.

    Scott, as a fan, solid but still has a tendency to fling it.

    Lamont, you just got to hand it to him. Playing solid reliable rugby. He cares.

    Hogg. Was Hogg (I.e. world class) but a bit off pace by his standards only. A bit injured. I was looking back at the Japan history though and saw the name Southwell and bile rose in my throat.

    Laidlaw. Yeah whatever. Slow ball average kicking. A for effort. C for achievement. Hand the responsibility to Russell and get someone with a quicker hands please. Also utterly ineffective when the decisions from the ref were going against us.

    Can’t be arsed to do the whole pack, but thought Hardie was very good, Gilchrist poor, Strauss a huge difference when on and Denton goes in the Lamont category. Determined and deserving.

    All in all. Stand by the obvious sentiment: This is the best team since 1990, and even Laidlaw probably would not miss from straight in front he posts.

    Honourable mentioned to Maitland.

    • Russell on

      Absolutely agree about Russell. He is going to be world class and is the player we would miss the most if he got injured.

      • FF on

        If Russel is injured we are totally screwed. It is a real shame Heathcote didn’t kick on at Edinburgh and Weir has regressed since his early promise. I probably would have brought Jackson in place of Weir but I realise this isn’t a particularly popular option.

        The big question is – do we play Russell against USA or start with Weir. We can’t afford to take the US lightly but can Russell really play 4 matches in 17 days?

      • MK on

        Yeah, hopefully Heathcote can get a second wind at Worcester. Kinghorn looks a decent prospect, so does Te Rure. But for the here and now hope Russell pulls through! To be fair Ireland and Wales are in a similar situation, one injury to Sexton and Biggar and they’re in trouble too.

      • Matto on

        I think we’ll start with Weir against USA. I agree that we can’t take the game lightly, but if Russell had never come through – would we not still expect to beat the Eagles with Weir at the helm? I think we will rest Hogg, Russell, Bennett, Seymour/Lamont, J Gray, Hardie and possibly the front row, with these players making up the bench. Then full strength for SA and Samoa, where we have a full week turnaround.

  7. Bulldog on

    Here in Glaaster there is a bit of a chilly wind whistling through the streets and an air of enevitability settling. The bookies got it right and it was never in question. Indoors it is all raising a glass to Scotland. Job done, bench tested and some areas of vulnarability to work on for the next game.

    It was pulsating and the scots defence was good, not perfect, some areas to work on as Japan did test and penetrate. He was solid the whole game doing what we expect but at 50 minutes Hardie stepped up a pace and the flip back and subsequent try were inspirational. Turning point. In fact the back row as a unit were well balanced IMO.

    The scrum had a good game and well refereed by John Lacey.

    One game at a time, heres hoping all our lads are recovering without injury.

  8. Andrew McG on

    Although I share the frustration of other nations’ fans not giving Scotland credit for some great play, it’s only fair to say that they have a point about Japan’s 4-day turnaround. That clearly did have an impact on them, and it’s also quite clearly unfair to them. I think a 5-day turnaround should be a mandatory minimum. To be honest, though, I’m quite happy if Scotland can keep playing well and other teams/fans keep finding other reasons for why Scotland win. The more we’re underestimated, the better our chances.

    A word of praise to the lads coming off the bench. Yes, Japan were tiring visibly, but there was a clear impact with the quality of our subs. At no point did I feel that our quality weakened (apart from the ball sailing over Ritchie Gray’s head from the kick-off – despite him being lifted 20 yards in the air!), when normally you’d expect it to become a little more disjointed when subs come on. This is evidence to me of: a) greater quality in depth; b) 2 months in training together. The ‘quality’ players are not having to adjust/compensate when a weaker bench gets used and they seem to be able to anticipate supporting lines etc. – nobody got isolated; hunting as a pack. So…despite a queasy feeling at 12-10, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the tournament. Well done boys!

  9. Russell on

    Great performance but does anyone have any ideas why we continually make a mess of receiving restarts? We have struggled at this for years and it doesn’t seem to have been addressed and as a result we just invite pressure on ourselves. The guys also seemed scared to compete for any high balls against Japan as well, letting it bounce on more than one occasion.

  10. Pete on

    Fantastic result after a nerve wracking first half.

    Russell was visibly annoyed that he wasn’t allowed to convert his own try. Once the game was in the bag, Laidlaw really should have given Russell the opportunity for some practice.

    • Allan on

      That’s Laidlaw to a tee. Japan get a man yellow carded and he decides to kick a pen that was at best 50/50 rather than keep the pressure on and go for a line out in the corner where we could have had a run at a midfield short one man. He missed, Hogg knocked on, Japan get in our half and run out the ten mins!

      I can’t believe he got MoM. He was steady but unspectacular. Hardie and Bennett were the outstanding players in blue.

      • Martin on

        Agreed – I was spitting feathers at Laidlaw in that first half – he constantly kicked possession away – although it yielded a couple of penalties we never put their defence under any pressure in the first half and I can only recall him passing to Russell once. When we eventually put them on the back foot we caused them no end of problems. I think positive game management would have seen them tire earlier. Still in the second half he was very good. My biggest concern with laidlaw is actually that as captain he dictates the play and doesn’t allow Russell to do it. we have our first genuinely class fly-half for years and despite having a solid set-piece platform we wasn’t in the game for the first 50 minutes.

      • FF on

        Sorry Martin, your memory of the game is failing you. I’ve just rewatched it and the first 10minutes is virtually all Scottish possession in Japan’s half, with Russell receiving the ball four or five times, leading up to Seymour’s half chance where he is pushed into touch down the blindside. With a penalty advantage, Russell even chips it over his opposite number, re gathers and offloads to Scott.

        In fact, until Hogg knocks on with a Japan player in the bin (25min), Japan had had no meaningful possession in our half except the 5m line out and pushover try that resulted from a penalty on 55 metres.

        The fact is, Laidlaw was clearly following Cotter’s strategy not to play any rugby in our half and except for the conceded try it was very effective. Not only that but Laidlaw’s box kicks were longer than usual and often fielded by forwards and led to a number of Scottish possessions and no positive Japanese counter attacks, so for once Laidlaw was executing the kicks well.

        And we were in the game for the first 50 minutes, we were easily on top for the first 25minutes and Japan were rather fortunate to take their one chance and be hanging on. Then Japan had a period of pressure until about minute 37 when we played out almost a dozen phases leading to Seymour’s almost-try. Cooler heads from Russel would have given it to Hogg to draw the last defender and we would have gone in 7-9pts up. Japan were on the up for the first 6minutes of the second half and then we had a dozen phases leading up to Hardie’s try. From there the game followed a familiar pattern, we soaked up Japanese pressure, won possession back and were incredibly clinical in scoring off almost every half chance.

        Cotter’s strategy worked like a dream and Laidlaw executed it to near perfection. Japan still had a sniff of the game because we made mistakes at key points – Gilchrist unnecessary penalty, Hogg knock on, missed restart etc. but we were well in control of that match and confident in our defence to hold Japan out. Not that that is how I felt watching it first time round mind!

      • FF on

        Allan – hindsight is a fine thing indeed. But SA lost because they didn’t take those penalty kicks and build a lead. If Laidlaw had kicked the penalty we would have been 8pts (two scores) up, receiving a kick off with an opposition player in the bin. Laidlaw made the correct choice, we ceded the momentum when Hogg dropped a routine catch and then we gave away a scrum penalty.

        I agree that Hardie deserved MoM though. I’d have given Laidlaw 7/10. I also thought Scott played very well and his partnership with Russell and Bennett is starting to look very good indeed.

      • Martin on

        I’ve not had the chance to watch again – I can only cite from memory how annoyed I was that Laidlaw was box kicking instead of building phases of play and tiring the opposition out – we made a lot more tackles than they did and I can’t help but think that the decision to kick, run pass (when you have a solid platform) should come from your playmaker (and arguably our best player) instead Laidlaw was calling the shots and in the first half I think (whether it was plan or not) he was too cautious. I have no problems with a scrum half kicking to keep a team honest, but fundamentally play should have been dictated from 10 and it should have been mixed up enough (even Russell going for the up under is fine if he thinks its the best play – but 10 can scan the line and can see what he has on the outside, it should in the main be him that is trusted with the calls).

        Perhaps I have been a bit sparse in offering credit for the last 30 minutes where I thought his decision making was excellent and his speed and accuracy of delivery excellent. He is a very reliable goalkicker and a calm presence on the field. Perhaps greater time on the field with Russell will enable a more intuitive understanding and trust – all in all its an excellent win and excellent to see the backs scoring tries, and great to see us sitting top with the bonus point

      • Merlot on

        It’s only because I read the comments on this blog that I noticed Laidlaw’s box kicking (the rest of his game was solid in the first half, excellent in the second).
        Like FF, I have since re-watched the match and it is amazing watching it without the emotion how differently it is perceived. Virtually all of the attacking play was from Scotland – thus 5 kickable penalties. The Japan try came from a stupid error by Gilchrist, although nobody would have predicted the superb kick into the corner from 50m out.
        Honestly – this blog has skewed my perception of Laidlaw – he deserved his MoM if only because of his execution of the game plan – take the points in the first half and earn the right to go wide (sorry for the cliche).
        I also disagree (slightly) with the general perception that the 4 day turnaround meant the Japanese were knackered. If they were that knackered they wouldn’t have been able to pile on the pressure in the last 10 minutes to get a consolation score. Our tries came from hard running, good lines, and off-loads. Similar to SA’s scores when Japan were full of beans!!
        Lastly (Pete), not sure why Russell should be able to convert his own try. It’s not a friendly 2nd XV match down at the rec. Laidlaw is the nominated (and proven) kicker, and I’m sure Finn Russell appreciates that.

  11. Standoffalot on

    Excellent second half performance after weathering the storm in the first. Agree that we’ll see a bit of squad rotation for the USA game. I’d like to see Pyrgos and Horne get a start to see what they can do. I’d also start Gilchrist as he looked rusty yesterday and I’m still not convinced by him, but it’s fair to say big Vern is a better judge than me. Weir or Russell? For me, Russell has to start as it’s a must win game.

    We do still keep shooting ourselves in the foot though don’t we? Thinking specifically of the overthrown line out at halfway and Scott’s kick straight into touch when it was passed to him from outside the 22. We play well and then give the opposition the opportunity to come straight back at us. If we can cut out the errors we might actually become a very decent side.

    Lastly I know Laidlaw’s getting bashed on here again, but I thought he had a decent game. Not quite MoM, for me that goes to Bennett or J Gray, but he managed things well and got the ball away quickly. I think he was obviously instructed to keep it tight at the start and then go wide in the second half, and it certainly worked.

    • Merlot on

      I must admit I was already thinking about how everyone’s going to have a go at Laidlaw on this blog before the first quarter was over. However, of his five box kicks in that time, one was knocked on by the oppo, one was recaptured by our chasers, and only one did Japan make more than 5 metres. None of them resulted in loss of territory or points. Not a MoM performance (although his 2nd half was a significant improvement) but certainly not something we should be worried about.
      It’s obviously in the Scottish Psyche to be overly optimistic before we even start and then pessimistic when things are going well!! A bonus point win against a giant-killing, up-and-coming “minnow” I’ll take.
      Bring on the Eagles.

    • pragmatic optomist on

      I’m another who thinks Laidlaw is our second best scrum half, but I thought he played very well against Japan.
      Was it Dallaglio who decided who the MOM was?

      • Scott on

        All the MOM for the WC are decided by twitter votes from a 3 man shortlist(not sure who came up with the shortlist) but interestingly Laidlaw was the only Scottish player on the shortlist. Bennett and Hardie could both IMO feel aggrieved by this, although Laidlaw did have a good strong performance and showed the kind of form he has for Gloucester. Perhaps because the forwards infront of him are providing good front foot ball.

  12. Stouff on

    I was really pleased by how well we played when we finally got into the upper gears in the second half. This back division is as incisive a unit as I can remember.
    However, as an ex forward, the driving maul, both offensively and defensively is really worrying me. I know historically, the maul has never been one of our strengths, but this team seems incapable of either moving one forward offensively, or defending one in any way shape or form. The Japanese drive from the lineout was a case in point. If you know you’re poor at defending the maul, why persist in engaging after the lineout? They did this against Italy in the 6N as well. I would have thought it would have been smart heads up rugby to stand back, let them set and then get Hardie round the back to pull it down. It takes the sting out of it, and it keeps the opposition honest. These days it seems that most teams consider a kick to the corner as a guaranteed 5 pointer against us. When you consider how often SA used it against Japan, I worry that it’s the only obvious weakness they can exploit?

    • pragmatic optomist on

      Part of the issue seems to be that no one knows which opposition player is carrying the ball. Only Hardy was close enough to know after the lineout, and at that 5m distance it’s too late once the drive has started and gat momentum.
      I’m not sure that not challenging and going roound the back would work at a 5m lineout. It’s just too close to the line for that tactic surely?

      • Stouff on

        The point of not engaging is to force the opposition to play the ball out to their backs. If no one engages at the line out, they can’t form a maul and drive it forward, otherwise it would be deemed obstruction. They could form a maul but they can’t drive it. This would allow one of the back rowers to go round the back and kill the ball. It would’ve allowed us to get our defence set, and doing it every now and then would’ve made the Japanese think twice about driving it.

      • FiferMitchell on

        Whilst that is true stouff, clever attacking teams will notice what the defence is doing and form the maul with the jumper still holding the ball at the front of the maul, meaning that there is no obstruction, then once the jumper is heading towards the line being pushed by his mates, the defence has to engage, then the ball is filtered to the back and a traditional maul is formed. Scotland could perhaps use your plan once and not engage, but on the second attempt, the attack will be aware of whats happening and then execute what Ive just said. However, there’s no harm in not engaging now and again, just to keep the attack on their toes.

  13. Fraz on

    First time poster (but regular reader) :) Overall it was a cracking result given it’s not a regular occurrence that we score 5 tries in a match. It was squeaky bum for the 2nd half of the 1st half (if that makes sense) and first 10 mins of the 2nd half but their no. 8 going off and Hardie’s try seemed to sink the Japanese a degree.

    Some of our handling in the 2nd half was excellent and Bennett had me on my feet with his movement and aggressive running. Early days yes but we now have backs that know how to score, take a proper line, beat a man … heady stuff!

    On the driving maul point, their try to me was mainly excellent execution – later in the match they had at least one other driving maul and we beasted it – defended it very well and broke it up by being aggressive (albeit with their #8 off and them tiring).

    Negatives are as many posters above – stupid mistakes are still there in abundance. Their try came directly from a penalty caused by Gilchrist not rolling away when at first viewing he could have moved or at least shown the ref he was trying. The lineout overthrow was another scary moment because against Samoa / South Africa (all blacks in the final!) that ball would have been snaffled and more than likely scored off of.

    But – 5 tries, win, bonus point … yes please!

  14. Cameron on

    This just confirms to me that, in the grand tradition of Scottish sport, there has to be a bad guy. Laidlaw getting pilloried for a match in which he kicked 20 points and was given MotM by an impartial crowd.

    Guess what, Laidlaw played the Scottish game plan yesterday. Rode out the Japanese onslaught in the first half, made sure the team were competitive, kicked points when on offer (apart from a very strange miss) and stayed on top of the match. Then, when the Japanese were flagging, we started to attack properly. Game plan executed perfectly. We are not at the point yet, I’m afraid, where we can come out and start slinging the ball about all over the place. In fact, if you look round the early matches, there hasn’t been a lot of ‘big’ team simply going out and bullying from the off. Game plans are 1. Weather the storm of opposition exuberance. 2. Find way to win game. 3. Go for bonus. Which we did.

    Good to see us actually stuff a team. Even though Japan flagged in the last 20, they were of far higher class than the Romanian and Georgian teams we faced last time out that we managed to look like total cloggers against.

    Professional job done, killed a team that presented the opportunity to be beaten. Move onto the US match, do the same and suddenly the game against SA is one that if we win, we are in the next round.

    Exciting times.

  15. Graeme on

    Don’t want to sound like private Frazer here but although a good performance and bonus point win was put in the japenese for me were playing very well and but for some very good defending and high tackle count could of been different game. I believe scotland are struggling to hold on to our top 10 nations tag. Japan played very well in both games Georgia have beaten tonga Romania were not that too bad first half against the french. These teams and others are improving and catching up to ourselves look where the Italians have fallen in the rankings. With Japan and Argentina getting franchises in super rugby next year interest and improvements in their games individuals and teams alike will only get stronger for those nations alone. If an Italian team backs out the pro 12 whose to say Georgia or Romania could fill the slot with its own team. Japan for me played extremely well and maybe unfortunate they don’t yet have that strength in depth yet and the quick turnaround in games that maybe helped the game run away from them. A great performance by scotland however and look forward to the Eagles game

    • FF on

      Japan showed against SA they are no mugs. One of the biggest positives for me was our defence which soaked up phase after phase of Japanese attacks and pressured them into mistakes – we did everything SA failed to do and looked comfortable against a very capable opposition.

  16. Bulldog on

    Well I am fed up of the 4 day turnaround chatter, I think we are being manipulated by emotion. Eddie Jones has been moaning to the Telegraph about the organisers imposing a 4 day turnaround. We think that a profesonal player should be fit enough to recover, that is equally illconceived.

    Get a grip Eddie, it is your fault for not playing the remaining players in your squad.

    He chose to recycle the same players, knowing they would not recover on time. It is how he chose to respond to the schedule that is at question, not the schedule. It was his choice. He now has injuries, including his talented number 8 to deal with alongside the need to motivate the whole squad.

    Scotland should rest as many players as possible and if they dont , we should be asking why ? There are no easy games in the RWC ,that is what we say every 4 years and are surpised when results are not as predicted. But if you do not use your entire squad , that is small minded, short term, sending a huge negative message to your squad and self defeating.

    I feel sure BVC will use the entire squad.

  17. John Mc on

    Watched a recording last night. Yes, there were some mistakes of a kind we’d pay for dearly against Tier 1 opposition (where did this Tier 1/2 thing come from? Had never heard of it before this RWC.), but it was clear first that there was a game plan and second that this side could execute it pretty efficiently.

    I’m not re-joining the loony optimist Scotland rugby fan club quite yet, but it’s one of our best opening showings in a RWC for a good while now and it does augur well for the rest of this pretty tough qualifying group. Saffers will be almost berserk with desire to restore their wounded pride in their remaining games, and Samoa are absolutely no mugs despite their off-field troubles with remuneration etc.
    But five tries and five points inc a bonus in the first match, against a side that downed South Africa? Get in there!

      • FF on

        Tier2blogspot has a good explanation of what the tiers are and where they come from.

        Long story short – tier 1 is broadly those teams that compete in the 6N and 4N. It has nothing to do with world ranking and is to do with how World Rugby directs investment towards developing rugby powers. The tiers haven’t actually been used for some time formally and have been replaced with high performance categories.

  18. pete K on

    japan was beaten by the outrageously bias ref with some disgusting calls against japan yet appeared blind to scots sins, dirty ref spoiled the game, Scotland would have lost with a decent ref

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