Scotland destroy Russia ahead of crucial Japan clash
WORLD CUP REPORT: Scotland will play Japan for a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals after a 26-point haul from Adam Hastings helped them to a nine-try, 61-0 thrashing of Russia on Wednesday.
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 10-30, Samoa 9-34, Ireland 0-35).
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend had no option but to rest the likes of big guns Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg, Blade Thompson and Johnny Gray, with only a four-day turnover before the game against Japan in Yokohama on Sunday.
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Townsend’s bet on a largely second-string side producing enough to seal the win paid off, however, with Hastings – son of legendary former captain Gavin – running the show with aplomb at Shizuoka’s Ecopa Stadium.
The result leaves Scotland on 10 points in Pool A while unbeaten hosts Japan have 14 and Ireland – who play Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday – 11. Only the two top sides will advance to the knock-out phase.
In the first-ever Test match between the two nations, Russia were defensively weak against Scotland for the full 80 minutes and flyhalf 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 scrumhalf’s pass found Hastings who stepped back in and rode Dimitry Gerasomov’s tackle for a try he also converted.
Hastings made it a personal double within minutes, chasing up on his own chip past a wrong-footed Vasily Artemyev after wing Darcy Graham had done well to keep the ball alive.
Hastings converted that and also a third try from Horne after the scrumhalf 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 wing had scythed through a non-existent defence from halfway.
With Russia flagging and falling badly off the tackles, the floodgates opened as first hooker George Turner crashed over from a driving maul and then wing Tommy Seymour dotted down in the corner.
Horne, moved to the wing to accommodate Henry Pyrgos at halfback, bagged his hat-trick and had a fourth try disallowed for a forward pass.
A raft of replacements on the hour-mark robbed the game of its momentum, as many of the 16,000 schoolchildren in the stadium headed for buses home.
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.
Man of the match: Scotland’s halfbacks were outstanding. Scrumhalf George Horne scored three tries, but the award goes to flyhalf Adam Hastings, who put in an exceptional performance on attack. He scored two tries and he was successful with eight conversions taking his tally to 26 points for the match.
Moment of the match: Darcy Graham’s outstanding break in the 45th minute which led to George Horne’s second try and Scotland’s crucial fourth to secure the bonus point.
Villain: Nobody, it was a good match – especially for Scotland.
Tries: Hastings 2, G Horne 3, Turner, Seymour, Barclay, McInally
Cons: Hastings 8
For Russia: None
Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Darcy Graham, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Fraser Brown, 6 John Barclay (captain), 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Simon Berghan, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Jamie Ritchie, 22 Henry Pyrgos, 23 Chris Harris.
Russia: 15 Vasily Artemyev (captain), 14 German Davydov, 13 Vladimir Ostroushko, 12 Dmitry Gerasimov, 11 Vladislav Sozonov, 10 Ramil Gaisin, 9 Dimitry Perov, 8 Nikita Vavilin, 7 Tagir Gadzhiev, 6 Vitaly Zhivatov, 5 Evgeny Elgin, 4 Andrey Ostrikov, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Stanislav Selskii, 1 Valery Morozov.
Replacements: 16 Sergey Chernyshev, 17 Azamat Bitiev, 18 Vladimir Podrezov, 19 Bogdan Fedotko, 20 Andrey Garbuzov, 21 Sergey Ianiushkin, 22 Anton Sychev, 23 Yury Kushnarev.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Alex Ruiz (France), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)