AFP: Mark Bennett scored two tries and Captain Greig Laidlaw kicked 20 points as Scotland destroyed World Cup giantkillers Japan on Wednesday.
Japan’s heroics beating South Africa 34-32 left them exhausted and after a bright start with a brilliant Amanaki Mafi try, they just could not keep up with the dark blues.
Leading 12-7 at half-time, Scotland took complete control after the break.
Two tries by Bennett one each from flanker John Hardie, Tommy Seymour and Finn Russell on his 23rd birthday crushed the spirited Japanese. Scottish skipper gave a clinical display of kicking on his Gloucester home ground, packed with 14,354 people for the occasion.
“We hung in there and competed well for an hour but we just ran out of energy,” said Japan captain Michael Leitch.
Laidlaw paid tribute to the Asian champions. “They gave us a good workout for our first game and it took time for us to get into our stride,” said. “It was tough despite the scoreline.”
Beleaguered South Africa to stick to game plan against Samoa
South Africa is backing its players and coaches despite their World Cup humiliation by Japan and will stick with its game plan for the tournament, Assistant Coach Ricardo Loubscher said.
“We back the plan, we back the coaches, we’re confident that in our squad of 31 anybody can step in at any time,” Loubscher said in response to doubts about South Africa’s approach.
Despite heavy criticism after the 34-32 defeat on Saturday, Loubscher said the team still believed in their tactics and would not change ahead of a physically challenging Pool B clash with Samoa in Birmingham on Saturday.
“We believe in the way we want to play, our blueprint,” Loubscher said.
“We are creating a lot of opportunities. It is easy to look back and identify those opportunities and talk about it, but under pressure you want to make sure you create those opportunities and finish them,” declared the coach.
“We’re not happy at our performance in the week but hopefully this will bring us closer together as a unit,” Loubscher added.
“We’re confident in terms of the way we want to play. The focus is to make sure we prepare well as a team and focus on beating Samoa.”
The Samoans – who are seeded second in the pool – opened with a 25-16 win over United States on Sunday.