By racking up nine tries against Russia, Scotland thought they had taken fate in their own hands – only to later discover that it instead lies with World Rugby and their weather forecasters.
After being eliminated from the last World Cup by a mistake by referee Craig Joubert in their quarter-final defeat to South Africa, this would be an intolerable act of cruelty if Typhoon Hagibis causes their winner-takes-all clash against Japan to be cancelled. Immediately after the game, head coach Gregor Townsend was still under the impression that the worst-case scenario would be for the match, scheduled to be in Yokohama on Sunday, to be moved. If the game is cancelled then Scotland would be eliminated should Ireland beat Samoa on Saturday. They can only hope and pray.
Certainly they could have done nothing more against Russia. Their second-string team wrapped up a bonus point inside 46 minutes and go on to register their biggest World Cup victory since their 89-0 thrashing of Ivory Coast in 1995. Gavin Hastings racked up 44 points in that game and was present to see his son, Adam Hastings score 26 points, including two tries, while his half-back partner George Horne registered a hat-trick of tries.
For a team that had proved such obdurate opponents for Ireland and Japan, Russia were sliced apart by Scotland with surprising ease. Maybe it was a game too far for Russia playing against what head coach Lyn Jones described as “super-sonic rugby” of Tier One level. No player inflicted as much damage as Darcy Graham, the sole survivor from the side that beat Samoa 34-0 last week.
The wing beat eight defenders and made 151 metres before he was wisely replaced by Townsend on 47 minutes. How Scotland will need his dancing feet against Japan.
Just as encouraging was a second successive shutout, a feat that was last achieved in 1964. Scotland missed just three tackles on the night, a far cry from the defensive horror show of their 27-3 defeat against Ireland. Of course, Japan will represent a considerable step up in class but from Townsend’s perspective this final tune-up could not have gone any better.
“What the players have done since the Ireland game is all you can ask of them,” Townsend said. “To beat Samoa 34-0, they’ve always been a difficult opponent for us and are a very good side, and then to deliver a performance like that against Russia, who have been tough to break down, does give you encouragement that the players are ready to play their best game on Sunday.”
The opening try came straight off the training ground as from a scrum Duncan Taylor’s hard line transfixed the Russian defence allowing Hastings to glide between three would-be tacklers.
If that score was soft then their next two scores were gifts, complete with ribbons. Hastings, who kicked exquisitely from hand all match, recognised a lack of backfield cover and prodded ahead, outpaced flanker Tagir Gadzhiev before touching down after Vasily Artemyev horribly misjudged the bounce.
Worse was to come for the Russians on 21 minutes. Winning lineout ball just in front of their own tryline, scrum half Dmitry Perov’s long pass was easily picked off by George Horne. The Russians had taken an AK47 to both feet.
Russia were their own worst enemies for the fourth try just after halftime. Perov’s box kick was too long, the kick-chase was too ragged and Graham was too electric. The wing stepped and slided his way past several defenders before unselfishly providing the scoring pass to Horne.
From thereon in, Scotland appeared able to score at will. Hooker George Turner spun off the back of a maul to go over before wing Tommy Seymour latched on to Blair Kinghorn’s perfectly weighted kick. Livewire Horne, now shifted to the wing, got his third and the rout was completely by John Barclay and Stuart McInally.
Now their fate is in the lap of the Gods.
Farewell, Vasily Artemyev
— Nick Mullins (@andNickMullins) October 9, 2019
"To be honest we were a bit nervous coming into the game"
John Barclay says that Scotland had a lot of fun out there. It certainly looked that way.
Sums it up
Scotland 173 minutes since conceding a point, Russia 193 minutes since scoring a point #SCOvRUS
— Russ Petty (@rpetty80) October 9, 2019
Full-time | Scotland 61 Russia 0
Patient, decisive, measured from Scotland. They could not have hoped for much more to set up this weekend against the hosts. What a game that will be.
Hastings thinks he has a third as well! However, another TMO check spoils the fun. Tommy Seymour's inside pass was forward.
That will be that.
Try, Stuart McInally! Scotland 61 Russia 0, 78 minutes
That's the pick of the bunch. Duncan Taylor slings a long pass out wide and gets a return offload back on the inside from Kinghorn. Scotland cross the 22 and Hastings lobs another long one out to McInally. The ball bounces but the try is good...
...or is it? We have a TMO check for a foot in touch. It's all fine. Hastings' fantastic kicking night continues with a touchline conversion.
Try, John Barclay! Scotland 54 Russia 0, 75 minutes
Number eight for Scotland. Back-rower Barclay ambles under the posts after taking a neat, flat pass from Berghan and beating Russia's cover defence with a neat dummy. Hastings adds two more.
Scotland 47 Russia 0, 72 minutes
Shoulder-charge from Russia's replacement prop Azamat Bitiev on Adam Hastings.
It's a penalty, and Hastings hits the corner. Stuart McInally's throw is really wonky, though. Scrum to Russia.
Scotland 47 Russia 0, 70 minutes
Scotland force a scrum penalty. They'll go down-town.
Scotland will want to keep Russia on zero
This win for Scotland is doing wonders for their points difference, in a pool where it may matter. Every point they score (and concede!) might be the difference between a quarter-final and a flight home. A try being chalked off for a forward pass could matter. #RWC2019#SCOvRUS
— Charles Richardson (@CharlieRicho1) October 9, 2019
Scotland 47 Russia 0, 67 minutes
Good little spell for Russia, which ends with a breakdown penalty as tackler Ryan Wilson fails to roll away. They kick to the corner. Tagir Gadzhiev has kept going all tournament.
Ah. The throw is not straight. Scrum to Scotland.
Scotland 47 Russia 0, 65 minutes
The changes are coming thick and fast, now. Gaisan heads off for Russia. It's a head injury assessment, I think.
Television match offical
George Horne is over for a FOURTH. WP Nel made a beautiful break through the middle and threw a gorgeous sort of loop-the-loop pass. Magnus Bradbury then released Horne..will it count, though? No.
Bradbury's pass went forward.
Tommy Seymour's try, Scotland's sixth, here:
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 9, 2019
Try, George Horne! Scotland 47 Russia 0, 58 minutes
It's a procession now, and Horne junior has a hat-trick! Pyrgos made the initial break and his fellow scrum-half followed up for a treble. Hastings misses. However, with 20 minutes remaining, he will probably get another go.
Try, Tommy Seymour! Scotland 42 Russia 0, 56 minutes
Scotland are stretching clear and Russia look extremely tired. Kinghorn's dink down the right is acrobatically pounced upon by Seymour. That's the wing's first try of the tournament. He's been fairly quiet amid the carnage this evening.
Hastings converts brilliantly from the touchline.
Try, George Turner! Scotland 35 Russia 0, 51 minuites
It's a runaway maul and Russia look broken now. Hooker Turner, busy throughout this game, breaks away and scores. Hastings flirts with the left-hand post but converts to take his personal tally to 20 points.
Scotland 28 Russia 0, 49 minutes
Scotland are after number five now...but Kinghorn's offload towards Seymour sails into touch. Darcy Graham has headed off, by the way, with Henry Pyrgos coming on and George Horne moving to the wing.
An epic awaits
— Cian Tracey (@CianTracey1) October 9, 2019
Try, George Horne! Scotland 28 Russia 0, 44 minutes
Horne junior has a second, Scotland have a fourth. But that is all about Darcy Graham. Russia scrum-half Dmitry Perov box-kicks but the ball travels too long and Graham has room to run it back, which he does so brilliantly.
The peroxide-blonde wing tears 50 metres up-field, beating four defenders and feeding a supporting Horne. Hastings converts.
Scotland 21 Russia 0, 41 minutes
Neat play from Russia. Artemyev hits the line on their left before they swing the ball back to the right and Gaisin kicks into touch via one bounce. Scotland will have to build from a lineout inside their own 22.
Off we go again. Can Scotland secure the bonus point and pull away? Simon Berhan has replaced Zander Fagerson at tighthead prop.
Blair Kinghorn takes the reatart, which does not go 10 metres. Poor start. Scrum to Russia.
There have been a few "нет"s from Wayne Barnes
#RWC2019: We worked with Wayne Barnes ahead of our Autumn Internationals last year. Nice to hear he's remembered some words of Russian. Top effort from the man in the middle #SCOvRUSpic.twitter.com/lDDd91gnV8
— Rugby Union Russia (@russiarugby) October 9, 2019
#TyphoonHagibis update: still a huge violent typhoon tracking toward Japan. Current forecasts (subject to change) take the centre right through Tokyo on Sat as a 'very strong' typhoon. Flooding rain & damaging winds likely.#ENGvFRA#RWC19 and #F1 quali under threat. pic.twitter.com/z6M8ghdVro
— Simon King (@SimonOKing) October 9, 2019
Half-time | Scotland 21 Russia 0
Frustration for Scotland. They pound away at the Russia line before George Horne dummies and darts...and knocks-on. Wayne Barnes blows up.
Scotland 21 Russia 0, 38 minutes
Good lineout defence from Scotland earns a scrum on the Russia 22. It's another good launchpad.
Scotland 21 Russia 0, 37 minutes
Bit of a scrappy period. Hastings finds a bit of space after gathering his own chip but is then bundled into touch.
As Peter Horne spills, here is his younger brother's try.
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 9, 2019
Scotland 21 Russia 0, 32 minutes
Another clever kick, this time from George Horne. Russia control the ball under pressure from Tommy Seymour and Gaisin clears into touch but it Scotland's maul is eating up ground...
Scotland 21 Russia 0, 30 minutes
This is such a patient performance from Scotland. They are kicking really well, plugging the corners and waiting for Russia to give them opportunities.
Interesting change here. Fraser Brown is off, with Magnus Bradbury. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Brown.
Scotland 21 Russia 0, 26 minutes
Everything is breaking for Scotland here. First they force a turnover on the deck and then Peter Horne's left-footed kick bounces into touch around six metres from Russia's line.
Here's Adam Hastings' first try...
After a frenetic opening, Scotland have their first try
Hastings has options but decides to go it alone and has the power and strength to get over the try line#RWC2019#ITVRugbypic.twitter.com/B7HivjMM5J
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 9, 2019
...and here's his second:
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 9, 2019
Try, George Horne! Scotland 21 Russia 0, 23 minutes
That's so clever from George Horne. Russia take the lineout and attempt to spin a pass into midfield but Horne scampers through to intercept and dot down. Hastings converts. One more for the bonus point. Already.
Scotland 14 Russia 0, 21 minutes
Slick from Scotland. They go through three swift phases following a scrum and then Hastings clips a kick into touch via a skidding bounce.
Try, Adam Hastings! Scotland 14 Russia 0, 18 minutes
Two for Scotland, two for Hastings. A loose exchange sees Russia attempt to move the ball right before their wing German Davydov spills. Graham gathers and finds Hastings, who chips ahead and beats covering back-rower Tagir Gadzhiev to hack through.
Artemyev scrambles across but is foxed by the bounce and Hastings has a double!
The conversion is good as well.
Scotland 7 Russia 0, 17 minutes
Good reply from Russia. They run back Scotland's clearance from the restart and earn a breakdown penalty. They kick to touch but then spill inside Scotland's 22 and their opponents run it back...
Try, Adam Hastings! Scotland 7 Russia 0, 15 minutes
That's a sweet finish from Scotland's young fly half. The ball is moved right through George Horne and Hastings dummies, slipping inside one tackle and powering through another to score. He converts and Scotland are on the way.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 12 minutes
A good moment from Scotland's pack. Their counter-shove ruins Russia's platform and Nikita Vavilin knocks on at the base. It'll be a scrum to Townsend's side in a very dangerous position.
Peter Horne has been prominent early on.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 11 minutes
Graham is collared high and Scotland kick the penalty into touch inside Russia's 22...they maul but then a strike-move goes awry. Peter Horne did not gather cleanly and then rushed a pass to Graham. Slightly messy start.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 9 minutes
Russia win a free-kick and centre Ostroushko gets another carry. Then there is some kick-tennis. Eventually, Adam Hastings' kick dribbles into the dead-ball area and Gaisan dots down. He takes the 22 drop-out too, and Graham runs the ball back.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 7 minutes
Graham has his hands on the ball again and beats a tackle but spills. The first scrum of the game will be fed by Russia.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 5 minutes
A lung-busting start ends with a bit of a silly penalty. Duncan Taylor grubbers ahead but Gaisin gathers and Zander Fagerson kicks through the ruck. That's illegal. Penalty to Russia.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 4 minutes
Scotland stand firm for 16 phases, pushing Russia back towards halfway. At that point, Gaisan goes to the air but their opponents gather and spread the ball nicely. Peter Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Fraser Brown, in the back row today, combine to send Darcy Graham scampering down the flank.
Scotland 0 Russia 0, 2 minutes
Promising stuff from Russia early on. They win back a high kick on their right before coming left, where flanker Tagir Gadzhiev links with centre Vladimir Ostroushko.
Away we go then! Wayne Barnes blasts his whistle and Ramil Gaisin strikes down into Scotland's 22 where Ryan Wilson gathers. George Horne kicks down to Artemyev and Russia run it back.
More fancy dress
This guy is in attendance today. Wow.
Loud and proud
Russia captain Vasily Artemyev has been a cult hero of this tournament.
In the middle there is Scotland scrum-half George Horne. He is a superb player.
Here they come to the sound of drums. Anthems next.
If you are wondering where the high pitched screams are coming from during Scotland v Russia it isn’t from the press box. 16,000 local school kids have been bussed in to cheer on Scotland pic.twitter.com/B9lw4Y5GSd
— Rob Robertson (@SDM_Robertson) October 9, 2019
"Since the draw was made, we've had an eye on this game"
Gregor Townsend says that the majority of this side faced Georgia in the second warm-up Test and is capable of scoring four tries.
He also insists that Scotland will need to be patient against a Russia team that kicks more than any other team in the tournament.
Shizuoka is a lovely spot. Just 10 minutes until kick-off.
The players are just going through their final warm-ups. Before they started, Gregor Townsend led Scotland a firm discussion out on the field.
Twenty minutes until kick-off
You have time to check out how Scotland went against Samoa...
...and how Russia did during a hard-fought loss to Ireland:
Russia's defensive efforts have been gradually improving. Follow Russ for more insights like this. He's excellent.
Russia tackle success = 64% v Italy, 75% v Japan, 70% v Samoa, 89% v Ireland
Russia 13-38 in 1st half / 6-61 in 2nd half in prev 3 games
Scotland won 2nd half by 24-7, 26-0, 14-0 v Tier 2 teams this year #SCOvRUSpic.twitter.com/qZ5tNvBEN1
— Russ Petty (@rpetty80) October 9, 2019
As it stands
With three Pool A fixtures to come, this is how things stand. Courtesy of that defeat by Ireland, Scotland have been playing catch-up.
Blair Kinghorn, Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Pete Horne, Darcy Graham, Adam Hastings, George Horne; Gordon Reid, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ben Toolis, John Barclay (captain), Fraser Brown, Ryan Wilson
Reserves: Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Henry Pyrgos, Chris Harris
Vasily Artemyev (captain), German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Gerasimov, Vladislav Sozonov, Ramil Gaisin, Dmitry Perov; Valery Morozov, Stanislav Selskii, Kirill Gotovtsev, Andrey Ostrikov, Evgeny Elgin, Vitaly Zhivatov, Tagir Gadzhiev, Nikita Vavilin
Reserves: Sergey Chernyshev, Azamat Bitiev, Vladimir Podrezov, Bogdan Fedotko, Andrey Garbuzov, Sergey Ianiushkin, Anton Sychev, Yury Kushnarev
Who is this man supporting do you think?
Mathieu Raynal was supposed to be overseeing this game. He has been struck down by illness, so Wayne Barnes is taking over.
There he is with captains John Barclay and Vasily Artemyev.
Hello and welcome to our live text commentary of Scotland’s penultimate Pool A game against Russia in Shizuoka.
Gregor Townsend’s side must win, and score four tries, to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
On Sunday, after a quick turnaround, they face hosts Japan in what could be a straight shootout for a quarter-final berth. Before that, though, Scotland have a very important job to do.
And Townsend knows that his players cannot get ahead of themselves at such an important juncture. Here are some highlights from his press conference a couple of days ago:
"Russia have gained in confidence, they look a fit team. The have obviously worked on their fitness. They have kept on going the longer the tournament has gone on.
"They were leading at half-time against Samoa, they were just trailing against Japan and they had 90 per cent tackle completion against Ireland. They have a very good scrum and an excellent kicking game."
"I thought the 10 [Ramil Gaisin] who played against Ireland was outstanding in his kicking. Seven [Tagir Gadzhiev] and eight [Nikita Vavilin] are also excellent players, while the tight-head [Kirill Gotovtsev] is one of the players of the tournament in the scrum.
"They will put everything into this. It’s their last game, their last for four years in a World Cup or longer if they do not qualify. We are expecting as good a performance as they gave against Ireland, maybe even a level up."
Meanwhile, Russia head coach Lyn Jones explained his own selections. After three losses from three matches, he is eager to see an “exciting” contest to finish off the campaign:
"It’s four changes from the Japan game. I think we must be the only team with a clean bill of health. I wanted us to give as many experiences to our players as possible without harming the performance levels.
"I am very comfortable with our team selection, we are good enough to create a really exciting match. We appreciate where Scotland are in the group, and we know that every player must give everything he has to perform and to compete as best as we can."