RWC 2019: Scotland set up Japan showdown with bonus-point win against Russia

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Scotland hammered Russia 61-0 as they claimed the crucial World Cup bonus-point win that tees up a do-or-die showdown with Japan on Sunday.

Gregor Townsend’s team needed to take maximum points from their clash with the Bears in Shizuoka to give themselves the best possible chance of making the quarter-finals, and they did just that thanks to a stunning nine-try demolition job.

George Horne became the first Scottish scrum-half to score a hat-trick after Adam Hastings put the Dark Blues ahead with a quick-fire early double.

George Turner, Tommy Seymour, John Barclay and Stuart McInally also scored in a resounding win that now leaves Scotland needing victory over the hosts in Yokohama in four days’ time to seal their place in the last eight.

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RWC 2019: Scott Wisemantel insists England will adapt to weather conditions

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England’s climax to the World Cup group stage against France is facing the triple threat of illness, injury and the approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis.

Captain Owen Farrell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie have been struck down by a stomach bug, while Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Joe Marler are being treated for knocks sustained in Saturday’s victory over Argentina.

But the gravest danger posed to the Pool C decider could be from one of the most aggressive typhoons ever recorded, on course to wipe out both weekend matches being played at Yokohama.

The extreme weather event had initially threatened Ireland’s crunch fixture against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday but is now arrowing towards Tokyo and Yokohama, where it could have a significant impact on England’s all-Six Nations clash.

Hagibis has escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 5 super typhoon, with winds estimated at 160mph set to make it one of the most dramatic intensifications of any tropical cyclone since records began.

Such storms can fade and change direction and there have already been false alarms at this World Cup – but on its existing trajectory it is due to hit Tokyo and Yokohama this weekend.

Any games cancelled due to weather problems are registered as scoreless draws and would have no impact on the final standings as England and France have already qualified for the quarter-finals.

Efforts would be made to stage the game elsewhere but contingency plans have not been made public and any changes would cause havoc to the plans of travelling supporters.

Nearly 150,000 fans are due to attend the weekend’s two games at International Stadium Yokohama, including Sunday’s crunch showdown between Japan and Scotland that will help decide a ferociously competitive Pool A.

“We have no control over the weather and we have to prepare for the game and see how it goes,” attack coach Scott Wisemantel said.

“Regarding the permutation around the game and shared points, we are just concentrating on playing to win.

“I live in a bubble and I don’t know where the game would be played (if it is called off).

“One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate.”

If Super Typhoon Hagibis fails to strike, then England’s plans still face the disruption of ranks thinned by injury and sickness.

Vunipola is the biggest concern as he continues his recovery from the twisted ankle sustained in Saturday’s bonus-point victory over Argentina, with Eddie Jones refusing to give a definitive update on his fitness.

Wisemantel confirmed that Vunipola is expected to be available for the knockout phase but insists no risks will be taken over his fitness against France.

Mark Wilson or Tom Curry will deputise for in a team that is likely to show several changes to the XV that defeated 14-man Argentina.

Jack Nowell made his comeback after four months out with an ankle problem against the Pumas but is suffering from stiffness in his left leg, while prop Joe Marler is struggling with a back problem and has also become a doubt.

The health and fitness of Farrell is worrying after he was the victim of a dangerous tackle against Argentina and what followed was a disappointing performance from the Saracens fly-half.

Wisemantel said: “The bump didn’t have any effect on him. I asked after the game and he said he felt pretty good, just a bit clunky with a few of the plays, but I thought he did outstandingly well.

“He’s a tough, competitive player who, if anything because he competes so hard, probably tries to over-rectify the situation.

“We haven’t had our final selection and we will do that tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.

“We need to look at whether it is worthwhile resting him, whether it isn’t, whether we keep it going – that is one for debate.”

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RWC 2019: Simon Easterby believes James Ryan will become an Ireland great

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James Ryan’s rare mix of humility and talent marks him out as a future Ireland great, according to Simon Easterby.

Fast-rising lock Ryan faces the biggest game of his embryonic Test career on Saturday when Ireland take on Samoa bidding to secure a World Cup quarter-final spot.

The 23-year-old has Leinster team-mate Dan Leavy to thank for the tongue-in-cheek nickname of ‘Big Cheese’, but forwards coach Easterby explains that in reality Ryan is as far away as possible from any ‘Big I Am’ persona.

Ryan is already being touted as a future Ireland captain, but Easterby backed the 21-cap second row to carve out a Test career of true renown whether he leads his country or not.

“He comes across as being quite quiet but actually he’s a real student of the game,” Easterby said.

“He works incredibly hard on the physical element, but certainly the mental part of the game too. There’s no ‘Big I Am’ about him, even though his nickname would suggest otherwise.

“He’s just a guy who will continue to grow and will continue to lead, whether that’s through having a ‘C’ next to his name or just through his actions.

“He will become one of the greats, I’ve no doubts about that.”

Ryan made his Test debut even before his senior bow with Leinster, such was Ireland’s faith in their fast-maturing lock.

The sharp-witted youngster came off the bench in Ireland’s 55-19 win over the United States in Harrison on June 10, 2017, and has stormed from strength to strength ever since.

“He’s come through the ranks, hasn’t he? We plucked him, I don’t think he’d even played a senior game for Leinster when we took him to the States to make his debut,” Easterby said.

“Maybe there were a few eyebrows raised at that. But he hasn’t disappointed.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s certainly on the right track currently. He works incredibly hard.

“And that I guess is the baseline for any great player: that they have the raw talent and the ability but that they also work incredibly hard. And he has all three.”

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