October 4, 2019 / 1:12 PM / 15 days ago

Scots bid to keep Russia in their sights as Japan challenge looms

KOBE, Japan (Reuters) - Scotland are not looking any further ahead in the Rugby World Cup than their match against Russia even though their final pool clash with Japan looks set to determine which side advances to the quarter-finals, assistant coach Danny Wilson said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Pool A - Scotland v Samoa - Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe, Japan - September 30, 2019 Scotland players celebrate after the match REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

Japan, second behind Ireland in Pool A with 9 points, face Samoa in Toyota City on Saturday before the Scots, on 5 points, take on the Russians next Wednesday in Shizuoka seeking a crucial bonus point to stay in contention.

Japan, however, will have eight days’ preparation for the Yokohama showdown with the Scots, who will only be granted four.

“We are not seeing past that (Russia) game at the moment,” Wilson told reporters in Kobe. “Obviously in the back of your mind you do need to prepare for a short turnaround to play Japan, but we won’t be taking this first challenge lightly.

“We know we need to get maximum points out of this game, which will be a challenge in itself, and one we relish.”

The durable 20th-ranked Russians have proved difficult for sides to put away in their three matches so far, although their conservative game plan is built more on defence than attack.

They pushed Japan in the opening match of the tournament in Tokyo before Samoa needed a strong second half to defeat them in Kumagaya.

It also took Ireland until the final quarter to achieve a bonus-point try in Kobe on Thursday in a match which saw The Bears reduced to 14 men for 20 minutes.

“You have seen a pretty passionate, physical bunch and their defensive physicality has really brought a lot to the party,” Wilson said.

“They have frustrated teams at times in this tournament and we will expect exactly the same. With it being their last game, it does present a potential opportunity for them (and)... they will obviously want to get a victory. I know they will be very well prepared for that.”

Wilson added that prop Allan Dell (concussion) and flanker John Barclay (groin) were progressing well as Scotland prepared for their final week of pool play with two games four days apart.

“We know we have got a challenge based on two games over quite a short period,” Wilson said. “That is the challenge of a World Cup.

“We have got a good squad with some real quality in it and it is important we manage that well over that short period between games.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Tokyo; editing by Tony Lawrence

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