Japan defeat Scotland to progress to RWC Quarter Final

Scotland’s Rugby World Cup 2019 hopes were ended amid Japanese quality and tumult in the Yokohama International Stadium tonight.

They won an epic contest by four tries to three.

Japan topped Pool A, undefeated and accounting for Ireland, the world’s number one team at the time, and Scotland en route. For the hosts, they now face a quarter-final against South Africa – shades of Brighton 2015? – next weekend.

For Scotland, it was only the second time in nine tournaments that the quarter-finals had not been achieved and home now beckons.

There will be huge disappointment for head coach Gregor Townsend, his management team and all players that, for the first time, Japan had defeated Scotland at Test level. Ultimately, the loss to Ireland in their opening pool game was also a millstone for Scotland.

The pitch in Yokohama was in immaculate condition – a huge credit to the Japanese hosts – as the teams took to the field. A minute’s silence in memory of the victims of Typhoon Hagibis, the biggest storm to hit Japan in 61 years which struck the mainland yesterday, was observed impeccably by the 70,000 crowd.

Japan kicked-off and Sam Johnson guddled on the deck to enable Japan to attack. At the breakdown, however, Allan Dell, secured the penalty.

Blade Thomson won the resultant lineout and Magnus Bradbury was on the charge but from the ruck, Finn Russell’s kick was charged down and Scotland had to look lively in defence with Tommy Seymour doing exemplary work to rescue.

A second penalty enabled Scotland to clear and with Stuart Hogg and Seymour threatening on the right, Russell then kicked to the open side and his diagonal was chased furiously by Darcy Graham. Tamura, the Japanese stand-off, got their first, but Bradbury won the turnover and was then involved along with Jonny Gray and Grant Gilchrist in making short-range advances. Ball was recycled again, and Russell danced past the hosts’ scrum-half and had the pace to score his sixth try for Scotland. Greig Laidlaw converted (0-7, 6 mins).

Japan responded and attacked off scrum ball but a thumping tackle by Fraser Brown and then a Jamie Ritchie turnover enabled Laidlaw to clear.

Willem Nel conceded Scotland’s first penalty in the 15thminute for a low, no-arms tackle on Shota Horie but Tamura was short and wide with his attempt at goal from 50 metres.

Japan did, however, hit back with a cracking try. Their playmaker Timothy Lafaele released Kenki Fukuoka out wide and though Chris Harris made the tackle, Fukuoka gave the inside pass to Kataro Matsushima and the man who claimed a hat-trick in the opening game of this World Cup, blazed in. Tamura converted, the first try Scotland had conceded in some 190 minutes of Test match rugby (7-7, 18 mins).

Scotland won a maul turnover from the restart but were then penalised at the subsequent scrum and, once again, Japan launched a blistering attack with Matsushima bulldozing the intended tackle of Bradbury and then Gilchrist. Japan continued at pace and full-back William Tupou delivered an audacious step to unleash prop Keita Inagaki for a try under the posts. Tamura converted (14-7, 26 mins).

A ruling from the referee, adjudging a Russell knock-on, when a kick by the stand-off into open field looked to have set up Graham for a try, did not help the Scots.

Japan, dominating territory and possession for much of the half since Scotland’s opening salvo, had another shot at goal after 38 minutes when Dell was penalised, but Tamura’s kick drifted wide of the left upright.

From the restart, however, Japan attacked left, Lafaele kicked through and the bounce was on a silver platter for Fukuoka. Tamura converted. Japan’s third try put them in pole position to qualify from Pool A. (21-7).

​Half-time: Japan 21 Scotland 7

Russell restarted and Seymour secured ball and, eventually, Hogg found a decent touch from a penalty.

Scotland, however, stuttered in the face of all-enveloping Japanese engagement at formidable pace. Harris did well, initially, not to throw a pass but then he was stripped by Fukuoka who raced away for the bonus point try. Tamura converted (28-7, 43 mins).

Scotland, were left with an entire range of the Himalayas to scale now: three tries were required and a winning margin of more than seven points into the bargain, all from a deficit of 21 points and Japan on the front foot.

Scotland, however, at least managed a riposte: Seymour had been dumped unceremoniously on the left but ball was retained with Johnson carrying purposefully. Ritchie than broke in the middle and Scotland recycled for Nel to muscle in for the try from close-range. Laidlaw converted (14-28, 50 mins).

Scotland sent for the cavalry and introduced five substitutes and Russell was at his coruscating best as he launched an attack with a quickly taken lineout which ended with Gray popping up ball to substitute Zander Fagerson who powered over for his first try for Scotland. Russell converted (28-21, 55 mins).

Japan rallied, as you knew they would, and went through a devastating series of 21 phases before Ritchie’s bravery and precision at breakdown won a turnover penalty.

More defensive heroics were soon required within the Scotland 22 and a brilliant tackle by Fagerson, who then got to his feet to mount a vigorous counter ruck, secured a vital turnover.

The clock was starting to become Japan’s friend – not that there had been any let-up in their relentless tempo – and a penalty when Scotland were on the attack saw them clear towards the Scotland 22.

Inside the final 10 minutes and Scotland won against the throw at a lineout but a turnover for Japan meant they were once again in charge. Scotland, however, replied in kind and a penalty enabled Hogg to fire them towards the Japanese 22.

A knock-on by Harris as Scotland desperately attacked on the right saw Japan awarded a scrum, at which they were penalised enabling Russell to fire Scotland deep into the Japanese 22.

One last chance to salvage a bonus point try but the Japanese defence held firm, the hosts won the ball on the deck in a tackle on Russell and then played out to secure their quarter-final place.

Full time: Japan 28 Scotland 21

Japan: William Tupou; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Jiwon Koo, Luke Thompson, James Moore, Michael Leitch captain, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno

Subs: Atsushi Sakate for Hori (72 mins), Isileli Nakajima for Inagaki (56 mins), Asaeli Ai Valu for Koo (21 mins) , Uwe Helu for Moore (50 mins) Hendrik Tui for Leitch (72 mins) Fumiaki Tanaka for Nagare (50 mins), Fikiya Matsuda, Ryohei Yamanaka for Tupou (50 mins).

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Darcy Graham (Edinburgh Rugby); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) captain; Allan Dell (London Irish); Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist (both Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie (both Edinburgh Rugby), Blade Thomson (Scarlets).

Subs: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) for Brown (51 mins), Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls) for Dell (51 mins), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) for , Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) for Gilchrist (51 mins), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) for Bradbury (65 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Laidlaw (51mins), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Graham ( 60 mins), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) for Seymour (51 mins).

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France) and Matt Carley (England). TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa).

Man of the Match: Kenki Fukuoka (Japan)

live commentary 11:45 AM Sunday 13 Oct 2019

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Kick-off 11:45 AM

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