Coach Eddie Jones makes no excuses for big defeat but Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw saw an exhausted Brave Blossoms
GLOUCESTER – Japan coach Eddie Jones refused to blame a short turnaround for his team’s one-sided defeat to Scotland. But in reality, three days were just not enough for the Brave Blossoms to recover from their monumental win over South Africa at the weekend.
“I said we wouldn’t use that excuse and we are not,” Jones said following a 45-10 loss on Wednesday, when asked about playing Scotland on such short rest. “Scotland were too good for us in the second half.”
“We are a fit team, and I thought we did well and kept on running. We just weren’t good enough.”
Scotland captain and man of the match Greig Laidlaw, however, said he could clearly see that Japan were exhausted in the second period.
“I did feel they were tiring in the second half,” Laidlaw said. “To be honest, I felt like we had them at half-time. I felt they were starting to blow and we were starting to put them under pressure.
“Vern’s (Cotter) message was not to panic at half-time because we had them fitness wise. This is the fittest Scottish team in a long, long time and you’ve seen that in the warm-up games and again today.”
Scotland blew the game wide open in the second half, when they ran in five unanswered tries against an error-strewn Japan team, which failed to match the performance that toppled South Africa in Brighton on Saturday.
Japan were within touching distance of Scotland at the intermission, down only 12-7 thanks to Ayumu Goromaru’s try-saving tackle to end the first half, and despite Kotaro Matsushima drawing a yellow card in the 23rd minute.
Jones credited Scotland for capitalizing on Japan’s mistakes, rather than make excuses behind the fixtures.
“At half-time we had a realistic chance of winning the game. They got in our 22 and took opportunities and we gave them a number of opportunities to score from,” he said. “They scored at least two tries from our mistakes, intercepted passes and things.”
“When we got into their 22 we weren’t clinical enough so that was the difference. They tackled well and slowed our ball down, which made it hard for us to get momentum.”
Japan now have 10 days before their next game against Samoa, who face South Africa on Saturday in Birmingham. Jones is counting on Samoa and South Africa to wage a war of attrition, so the next time out his team will have the edge in physical conditioning.
“If we knock Samoa off in 10 days we have a fantastic chance (at the quarterfinals),” he said. “If we can’t knock Samoa off, then we have no chance.
“Hopefully Samoa’s game against South Africa at the weekend is like a UFC fight. I’m hoping for the old Springbok power to come forward. Then it’ll be interesting. What comes around goes around.”
- World Rugby