IAIN Morrison looks at what needs to be done by Scotland to ensure they don’t follow South Africa as victims of the giant-killers.
1 LINE SPEED
The Japanese game is all about pace and momentum, so stop them at source by fast line speed in defence. That will enable the Scots to make the tackle behind the gain line and prevent the Japanese from building momentum through their multi-phase, quick-ball rugby. Simple in theory, a little more tricky in practice.
The South Africans got on the wrong side of the referee with a bunch of brainless penalties which let Japan lift the siege time and again. The Scots must keep their discipline and win the penalty count, which lets the pressure build until something, or someone, in the opposition defence gives.
3 THE DRIVING MAUL
Scotland have a weight/muscle advantage that Japan will not allow them to exploit in the scrum, so they need to find other ways and a well-executed driving maul is almost impossible to halt legally. The Scots have been on the receiving end time and again, so do unto others as others have done unto you, as the Good Book almost says.
4 TAKE THE POINTS
This may appear too obvious to put into print, but South Africa spurned several penalty attempts in the first half and stuck it in the corner instead, a decision that is haunting them even now. Every penalty within range should be aimed at the posts until/unless the Scots have a two/three try cushion. Every one.
5 HOLD ONTO THE BALL
Japan beat South Africa for a host of reasons, but the fact that they were able to run through their plays at the death and hold onto the ball while doing so allowed the pressure to build and the gaps to appear. Accuracy in attack has not always been Scotland’s forte, but they need it this afternoon.
6 KEEP THEM SCORELESS
Another tactic to be filed under the heading “bleeding obvious” but Scotland won’t beat Japan until they chip away at their new-found self-belief, one penalty at a time. The longer Japan are kept scoreless the more air will escape from that bubble of Japanese belief.