All the details from Scotland's big Pool C win over Japan at Kingsholm.
Five second-half tries took Scotland to a convincing win over Japan in front of an excited crowd at Kingsholm. Japan scored all their points in the first 45 minutes, answering two Greig Laidlaw penalties with a try from Amanaki Mafi, converted by Ayumu Goromaru, who added a penalty shortly after the break.
John Hardie was first to cross the whitewash for Scotland in this Rugby World Cup, after 48 minutes, then Mark Bennett grabbed a pair of tries, either side of one by Tommy Seymour, and Finn Russell rounded it off with seven minutes to go. Man of the match Laidlaw kicked a total of 20 points.
While some nations have looked rusty on their first outing, Scotland soon settled and really hit their straps in the second half.
Scotland’s defence – The five tries they scored, some as a result of really fine play from the backs, will grab the headlines but Scotland had to make a total of 192 tackles as Japan enjoyed the majority of possession and territory. Vern Cotter‘s team kept their shape, trusted each other, and their line was only breached by a textbook and pretty much unstoppable driving maul from a lineout in the first half.
Boot champ – Greig Laidlaw’s excellent place-kicking gave Scotland an early lead, kept them in the game during the first half and helped them to stretch away from Japan after the break. He missed just two kicks out of ten.
Heroic hit – Scotland were 12-7 up as the clock went red at the end of the first half and pressing on the Japan line, Finn Russell flung a long pass out to Tommy Seymour, seemingly in acres of space on the right, but as the Scotland wing headed for the corner, full-back Ayumu Goromaru flew across and sent him crashing into touch.
Amanaki Mafi – The Japan No 8 had a terrific game in attack and defence, but his contribution was brought to a painful halt in the second half when he was stretchered off with a serious-looking leg injury. Mafi was driven over for his team’s only try after 14 minutes, had a good go at diving over a ruck on the line for a second score before the break and made a fabulous charge out of defence early in the second half, which earned Japan a penalty but resulted in his injury.
Slips and misses – Japan made more handling errors and missed more tackles in the first half than they did in their whole match against South Africa last Saturday. This time they spilled the ball 11 times in the entire 80 minutes and missed 16 tackles. Later in the game they might have been fatigued, but the first-half slip-ups can’t be blamed on that.
The schedule – Would Japan have had a better chance of beating Scotland if they hadn’t had to play just four days after their historic win over South Africa? Probably. So even though the organisers of this World Cup have made sure their schedule is less tough on tier two nations than in other years, it is still harming their chances. Yes, Scotland now have a four-day turnaround before they play the USA, but for Japan to face two tier one nations in such swift succession is a big ask.
Momentary lapses – Twice, straight after having scored points themselves, Scotland made mistakes from the re-start which could have been exploited by their opponents. It’s a schoolboy error to concede points when you have just scored them and Scotland will need to make sure they don’t do that against South Africa.
103 – The number of metres run in this match by Japan No 8 Mafi, which is more than any other player on the park. Scotland’s best was Seymour with 83.
21 – Scotland openside Hardie made 21 tackles, which was the most in the match, though Jonny Gray was just one behind him and Alasdair Dickinson made 18.
10 – Japan won all ten of their lineouts and both their scrums, whereas Scotland lost one of each.
Scotland: S Hogg (S Maitland 65), T Seymour, M Bennett (P Horne 74), M Scott, S Lamont; F Russell, G Laidlaw (capt), A Dickinson (R Grant 64), R Ford (F Brown 70), WP Nel (J Welsh 70), G Gilchrist (R Gray 49), J Gray, R Wilson (J Strauss 56), J Hardie, D Denton.
Tries (5): Hardie, Bennett 2, Seymour, Russell. Cons: Laidlaw 4 Pens: Laidlaw 4
Japan: A Goromaru; K Matsushima, M Sau, Y Tamura, K Fukuoka; H Tatekawa (K Hesketh 71), F Tanaka (A Hiwasa 64); K Inagaki, S Horie (T Kizu 70), H Yamashita (K Hatakeyama 52), L Thompson (S Ito 64), J Ives (S Makabe 60), M Leitch (capt), M Broadhurst, A Mafi (H Tui 44).
Try: Mafi. Con: Goromaru. Pen: Goromaru
Yellow Card: Kotaro Matsushima (22 min)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Man of the Match: Greig Laidlaw