Rugby World Cup: Scotland were too hot to handle, admits Japan coach Eddie Jones
Scotland 45-10 Japan
Japan head coach Eddie Jones admitted Scotland were just too good for his side as they failed to repeat their World Cup giant-killing act.
The Brave Blossoms lit up the tournament on Saturday as they stunned South Africa by winning 34-32 in Brighton.
But two games in the space of five days proved a step too far for the Japanese as the Scots made the most of their tiring legs to run in five second-half tries and claimed a vital bonus point with their 45-10 success in Gloucester.
However, Japan performed with enough verve and style in the first-half to briefly take the lead through Amanaki Mafi's opening touch down - leaving the Dark Blues fearing they were about to suffer the same humiliation dished out to the Springboks.
Jones said: "At half-time I thought we had a realistic chance of winning the game. They got into our '22' and they scored at least two tries off our turnovers. When we got into their '22' we were not clinical enough.
"I thought they played really well. They were too good for us."
Ahead of the match, Jones promised his side would run Scotland "off their feet".
But there was no evidence of that as Mark Bennett grabbed a double on top of scores from John Hardie, Tommy Seymour and Finn Russell in a devastating 40-minute show.
"We are a fit team. We didn't run them in the second-half but I thought we did pretty well. We were just not good enough," was how Jones responded after being asked to reassess his earlier statement.
South Africa could hardly believe how competitive Japan were at the set-piece last Saturday and Scotland found it was no fluke either as their opponents gave them the run around for most of the opening period.
But skipper Greig Laidlaw saw the tide turn just before half-time when Seymour was only kept out by a last-gasp Ayumu Goromaru tackle.
The Gloucester scrum-half, who kicked 20 points on his return to Kingsholm, said: "I felt like we had them at half-time. They were starting to blow while we were starting to hold onto the ball and put them under some pressure.
"The clear message from Vern (Cotter) and the coaches at the break was, 'Don't panic. Just hold the ball'.
"We felt we had them fitness-wise. I believe this Scotland side is the fittest for a long, long time and we showed that by playing for 80 minutes."
Scotland now top Pool B with a one-point lead over Japan.
But Laidlaw admitted their opponents' famous Springboks slaying had given them the jolt they needed ahead of their first fixture.
"Looking back (Japan's win over South Africa) probably actually helped our performance if I'm being honest," he said. "We were nervous at the start. To sit back and almost play last in the tournament was hard."
Scotland: Tries: Hardie, Bennett 2, Seymour, Russell.
Cons: Laidlaw 4. Pens: Laidlaw 4.
Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Bennett, Scott, Lamont, Russell, Laidlaw, Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gilchrist, J. Gray, Wilson, Hardie, Denton. Replacements: Maitland for Hogg (66), Horne for Bennett (80), Grant for Dickinson (65), Brown for Ford (73), Welsh for Nel (72), R. Gray for Gilchrist (51), Strauss for Wilson (59). Not Used: Pyrgos.
Japan: Tries: Mafi. Cons: Goromaru. Pens: Goromaru.
Japan: Goromaru, Matsushima, Sau, Tamura, Fukuoka, Tatekawa, Tanaka, Inagaki, Horie, Yamashita, Thompson, Ives, Leitch, Broadhurst, Mafi. Replacements: Hiwasa for Tamura (69), Hesketh for Tatekawa (76), Mikami for Inagaki (41), Kizu for Horie (73), Hatakeyama for Yamashita (53), Ito for Thompson (69), Makabe for Ives (61), Tui for Mafi (46).
Sin Bin: Matsushima (24).
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).