10 October 2019 08:50
Scotland dismantled a Russian outfit who appeared to have fought themselves to a standstill in their three credible outings against Japan, Samoa and Ireland earlier in the pool stage of this World Cup, scoring nine unanswered tries along the way. The second of those options would mean World Rugby breaking their own rules about World Cup matches having to be played on the day scheduled, but it would certainly be a preferable option to the game being declared a 0-0 draw – which would mean Scotland finishing third in Pool A and thus being knocked out the tournament. There would, of course, be a knock-on consequence of a postponement, with World Rugby presumably keen to get the tournament back on schedule for the following weekend's quarter-finals, which would mean the winner of Scotland v Japan – as well as Ireland, France and England, who could end up in a similar boat – having 24 to 48 hours less crucial recovery time. Adam Hastings got the ball rolling in this match when he floated past three tacklers and in for the first try in the 13th minute, and the stand-off doubled his – and his team's – account five minutes later when his own speculative kick ahead spooked Russian skipper Vasily Artemyev and led to an easy run in. A precocious piece of opportunism from George Horne brought in try number three for Scotland when the scrum-half latched onto Dmitry Perov's pass from a caught line-out near the Russian line and dotted down.
It took until the 44th minute before the bonus-point was wrapped up, when Darcy Graham fielded a kick on his own 22 and slalomed past three Russians caught in quicksand, before sending George Horne in for his second and the team's fourth score. It was still two minutes shy of the hour mark when George Horne snatched his hat-trick when he finished off sweeping attack up the left which he had also started, with brother Peter and Henry Pyrgos also contributing, but he was deprived his fourth try a few minutes later when the TMO belatedly pointed out that Magnus Bradbury's pass had floated forwards. The ease of the victory allowed head coach Townsend to rotate his squad to keep as many front-liners as fresh as possible for Scotland's crucial final pool match, with Fraser Brown – usually a hooker but playing at openside on this occasion – hauled off on the half hour mark. Scotland: B Kinghorn; T Seymour, D Taylor, P Horne, D Graham (H Pyrgos 52); A Hastings, G Horne (C Harris 65); G Reid (W Nel 59), G Turner (S McInally 65), Z Fagerson (S Berghan 40), S Cummings (G Gilchrist 59), B Toolis, J Barclay, F Brown (M Bradbury 30), R Wilson. Scotland did all they could to set up a quarter-final decider against Rugby World Cup hosts Japan by overwhelming Russia with nine tries in Shizuoka.
Hastings converted again and then threaded a pinpoint kick to have the Russians defending a lineout five metres out, and when Russian Scrum-half Dimitry Perov fired the ball out to his stand-off Ramil Gaisin, Horne smartly stepped in to intercept and dot the ball down for the third try. They were more direct going for the bonus just before half-time with a series of pounding drives at the Russian line but this time the red wall held, as George Horne was scragged trying to duck under a tackle near the posts and knocked on to end the half. But the essential bonus was only delayed until five minutes into the second half, when Russia ill-advisedly kicked away a knock-on advantage and Darcy Graham returned it 70 metres on a darting run past four defenders, putting the supporting George Horne in for his second and Scotland's crucial fourth. The Scots added a fifth try in 50 minutes as they mauled forward effectively into the Russian 22 and Turner spun off the back to race in from 15 metres to score, Hastings adding a fifth successful conversion. On the Scots' next attack it was Kinghorn's excellent grubber in behind the Russian defence that just stayed in play long enough for Seymour to score his 20th international try, and Hastings converted again from wide out.
A Scottish side boasting 14 changes from the team that beat Samoa 34-0 last week easily outgunned a Russian side ranked 20th in the world and which had suffered three defeats in their three previous Pool A games (Japan 30-10, Samoa 34-9, Ireland 35-0). In the first ever Test match between the two nations, Russia were defensively weak against Scotland for the full 80 minutes and fly-half Ramil Gaisin's touted territorial kicking game failed to mount any real pressure. The Scottish scrum was solid and when No 8 Ryan Wilson quickly fed George Horne, the scrum-half's pass found Hastings who stepped back in and rode Dimitry Gerasomov's tackle for a try he also converted. Hastings converted that and also a third try from Horne after the scrum-half intercepted a Dmitry Perov pass from a defensive Russian line-out on the tryline to make it 21-0 at half-time. Horne made sure of Scotland's attacking bonus point when he crossed for the team's fourth try five minutes into the second-half, a willing recipient of the final pass from Graham after the winger had scythed through a non-existent defence from halfway. Horne, moved to the wing to accommodate Henry Pyrgos at half-back, bagged his hat-trick and had a fourth try disallowed for a forward pass. Late tries from skipper John Barclay and replacement hooker Stuart McInally gave the score some added gloss, but Hastings was denied the final word, referee Wayne Barnes harshly ruling out what would have been his hat-trick of tries for a forward pass. Scotland hammered Russia 61-0 as they claimed the crucial World Cup bonus-point win that tees up a do-or-die showdown with Japan on Sunday. 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 the Dark Blues 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. FULL TIME | Scotland run in nine tries to defeat Russia at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa! Horne thought he had equalled Gavin Hastings' Scotland record of four tries in a single World Cup game soon after but had his celebrations cut short when Magnus Bradbury's scoring pass was ruled to be forward.