That’s the easy part done, the hard bit is still to come. Scotland beat Russia 61-0, their biggest win in 15 years, and earned the bonus point they needed just five minutes into the second half. That means that they now have 10 points in the pool, which puts them one behind Ireland, and four behind Japan, who they need to beat in Yokohama on Sunday. It’ll have to be a handsome victory, too, because if Japan pick up a bonus point for losing by seven points or less, Scotland will need one too, for scoring four tries or more. Assuming that is, they get to play at all.
Super Typhoon Hagibis is forecast to hit the Tokyo area this weekend. World Rugby have not announced their contingency plans yet and it is not clear whether, when, or where the match will go ahead.
The Russians will be gone by then. They looked utterly spent, and turned in their worst game yet. They started to run out of steam around 10 minutes in, when Adam Hastings scored the first try by slipping through their midfield with a cute dummy and a sidestep. Two minutes after the restart, Hastings chipped the ball ahead, chased it down himself, then hacked it on again beyond the Russian tryline. Their full-back, Vasily Artemyev, should have beaten him to it, but lost his footing and fell over sideways.
The third try was even worse. Russia won a lineout deep in their own 22, and their scrum-half, Dmitry Petrov, shot a long flat pass straight towards George Horne, who caught the ball and dived over the line while the Russians stood around staring at each other. They did manage to hold off the Scottish maul when they rolled forward in the final minutes of the half, but Scotland soon picked up that vital fourth try when Darcy Graham beat three tacklers with a sidewinding run that covered half the length of pitch. Horne finished it off for him.
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Pool A: Ireland, Japan, Russia, Samoa, Scotland
Pool B: Canada, Italy, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa
Pool C: Argentina, England, France, Tonga, USA
Pool D: Australia, Fiji, Georgia, Uruguay, Wales
It turned into a turkey shoot. There was a fifth by Gordon Turner, peeling off a maul, a sixth by Tommy Seymour, chasing down Blair Kinghorn’s grubber, and a seventh for Horne, who completed his hat-trick by finishing off a fine free-flowing counterattack from the halfway line. John Barclay got the eighth, and Stuart McInally the ninth and last.
By then Russia had pretty much given up tackling. It was more satisfying, perhaps, that the Scots have now played 192 minutes without conceding a single point, which is a World Cup record. They’ll want to stretch it the best part of another 80 minutes yet.