Japan vs Scotland: Gregor Townsend bemoans two ‘soft’ tries after Rugby World Cup defeat
Oct. 13, 2019
Gregor Townsend was left to bemoan two “soft” tries after seeing his Scotland side fail to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup following their 28-21 defeat by hosts Japan .
The Brave Blossoms stormed to a thrilling, pulsating victory in Yokohama, despite falling behind after an early Finn Russell try, that leaves them top of Pool A with four wins from four – two of which came against the Dark Blues and Joe Schmidt’s Ireland. Japan will now face South Africa in the last eight, the first time the nation has reached this stage of the competition.
As for Scotland, this is just the second time in their history that they’ve failed to progress beyond the group stages, with Townsend under the spotlight and facing questions over his future as head coach of the national side.
Speaking afterwards, the former Scotland international admitted the defeat by Japan was a “major blow” for him and his men as he sought to offer some explanations.
“Over the piece we were disappointed we weren’t able to win by more than eight points,” he said. “We started really well in defence and attack then we didn’t see much of the ball for the rest of the first half, partly due to errors we made, but also due to what Japan were doing when we had the ball.
“The two Japanese tries were felt were soft from our perspective. That made it very difficult to get the result we were looking for, but the players really put huge effort into that next 10-15 minutes and with 58 minutes gone, we were only seven points behind, but we didn’t do enough to get the win.
“Of course [being knocked out] is a major blow. We came here with high aspirations and getting out of the pool stage was stage one of that. We’ve worked really hard over the last four months and throughout this tournament to go further than we did tonight so it’s obviously very disappointing not to make it out of the pool.”
Townsend’s men needed an eight-point triumph to book a quarter-final slot and it looked promising when Russell put them ahead early.
But the Brave Blossoms hit back with a series of ceaseless attacks as they repeatedly crashed through the Dark Blues to secure top spot in Pool A and a rematch with their 2015 victims South Africa in Tokyo next Sunday.
Kenki Fukuoka grabbed a double, while star winger Kotaro Matsushima scored his fifth of the tournament – but it was prop Keita Inagaki who finished off a stunning move that will be hard to beat for try of the competition.
Scotland refused to go down without a fight but second-half scores from forwards WP Nel and Zander Fagerson were not enough to prevent the Scots succumbing to defeat.