Fukuroi City: George Horne scored a hat-trick as Scotland ran in nine tries in a 61-0 bonus-point thrashing of Russia on Wednesday to set up a crunch Pool A showdown with host nation Japan for a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Horne scored his first two tries from scrum-half and added a third from the left wing as Scotland finally got their high-octane running game going in their third match in Japan.
Fly-half Adam Hastings, son of Scotland great Gavin, also made a significant contribution with the first two tries in four first-half minutes and eight conversions for a personal haul of 26 points.
Horne actually crossed for what seemed like a Scottish record-equalling fourth try only for referee Wayne Barnes to call it back for a forward pass.
“That’s stage one of a two-stage week completed,” Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said. “As an all-round team performance, it was excellent.”
Neither Horne not Hastings are likely to start in Yokohama on Sunday when the Scots take on Japan almost certainly needing to record a victory and deprive the hosts of a bonus point to progress to the knockout stages.
“It’ll be huge, our focus now is on recovery, making sure we get our preparation right for that game, and our selection,” Townsend added.
“We’ve watched a lot of Japan, and I know they’ve watched a lot of us too.
“We’ve just got to make sure we deliver our best performance — we’ll have to because Japan are a very good team.”
That match in Yokohama, however, is in danger of being disrupted by Typhoon Hagibis, which is projected to strike the Tokyo area on Saturday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.
Tournament rules state that any pool game that cannot be played is not rescheduled and instead is recorded as a 0-0 draw, with no bonus points available.
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma said his team finally delivered the sort of game they had been working towards in their 47-19 win over the United States. The Pumas showed wonderful running and handling, but the game was a virtual dead rubber for Argentina who, for the first time since 2003, will be watching the quarter-finals from home after their earlier pool defeats by France and England.
“Today was very good in lots of areas but ultimately how I feel about this World Cup is that I’m not satisfied,” Ledesma said. “Everyone is disappointed that we couldn’t make it, but the motivation was still there today but it was from inside, from the heart.”