Scotland got the 4 try bonus point win and their points difference looks good too. Scotland’s 5 try 45-10 victory at Kingsholm was a few levels less emotional than the game between the South Africans and Japan. Which is what Scotland would’ve wanted.
Scotland would have arrived at Kingsholm, Gloucester knowing that Japan were on a super high after their historic win against the Springboks. What happened in Brighton may have been a blessing for the Scots. The Scots wouldn’t have underestimated the Japanese like the Boks did. The effect that the enormous effort that Japan had put in against South Africa had a telling effect on the Japanese after 50 minutes of their match against Scotland.
Scotland for a few years now have been improving in performances without much to show for it in terms of victories or successive victories. Scotland have been combative at the break-down for a while, while their defensive structure has been solid and their man for man tackling is as good as most teams playing in the RWC. The number of threatening runners in the backs is increasing too.
What was so impressive was the half-back pairing in this game and how they had an 80 minute plan and not playing emotional play by play rugby. For a large part of this game the Brave Blossoms of Japan attacked the Scots. The Scots holding out and playing correctly when put under this pressure. When the game started turning, it was almost as if the half-back pairing of Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russel were expecting it to happen and knew it was time to start turning the screw.
When Amanaki Mafi was stretchered off the pitch it was a pivotal moment as he had been Japan’s best player and along with his departure so did the Japanese fight seem to leave. This was not a time to feel sorry for a team that only had 90 something hours turnaround from the massive Springbok game until the encounter with the Scots. So once Scotland got the lead they never let up and showed a ruthless side to them.
All these points I have mentioned are positives for Scotland. Scotland will swear on it that they will only be thinking about their next match against the U.S.A but with the South Africa loss I’m sure they’ll be looking more optimistically of getting out the group. For this to happen Scotland will have to knuckle down in training on improving a few things in their game.
The scrums were not overly impressive against Japan. Consider that Japan were hardly even contesting the scrums against the Boks rather using channel one ball to get it out very fast. Scotland weren’t having that kind of dominance against the Japanese scrum. With the U.S.A to come , the scrum is going to get a workout.
I said there are more threatening runners in the Scottish backline but I never said that the Scottish backline looked threatening. There isn’t a cohesion on attrack like you see from the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and England.
The games are going to get harder for Scotland with a more physical encounter and some super fast runners attacking them out wide in the U.S.A game. If they come through this one in good shape they’ll be ready for the big one against the Boks.