KINGSHOLM: Some sort of order was restored to world rugby when Scotland scored three tries in 13 second half minutes to end Japanese dreams of repeating their embarrassment of the old order for the second time in four days. The Scots won 45-10
In the game and only five points down at half time, Japan lost their inspiration and try-scoring No 8 Amanaki Lelei Mafi five minutes into the second half. It was the cue for Scotland to get on top for the first time with tries from John Hardie, Mark Bennett and wing Tommy Seymour, who went 80 metres from an interception.
A second from Bennett, turning the defence inside out added unnecessary embarrassment to the lopsided scoreline – and a bonus point – and when Finn Russell stepped out and in without much of a hand laid on him other sides might have run up the white flag. Not Japan, Eddie Jones’s side, who found the miserly turn-around time just too harsh after their Springbok labours.
What a shame for The People’s Japan, but Scotland did exactly what they had to do. They will be delighted to get what became a very tricky fixture out of the way and will now be focussed on USA on Sunday, followed by South Africa and then a difficult encounter against Samoa.
Eddie Jones’s bullish assertion that his side would run Scotland off the park in the second half was always likely to be optimistic after Japan’s three-day turnaround after the South Africa win. The fact that Scotland ran in five second-half tries after an even first half is perhaps the clearest indication that they were struggling for fitness.
Japan, too, were not helped by Maki’s enforced substitution. The No8 was sensational either side of half-time and how Japan could have done with him on the pitch. Let’s hope Japan will bounce back: they’ve certainly got a coach who will get them up and will be the neutral’s favourites for the rest of their time in the tournament.