Sam Johnson: Scotland must be ready for a battle against Russia


Sam Johnson insists Scotland must be ready for a fight to the finish against Russia if they are to keep their World Cup quarter-final bid on track.

Gregor Townsend’s men will realistically need to take a bonus point from the Bears in Shizuoka next Wednesday if they are to ensure they go into their final Pool A game with Japan four days later still in the hunt for the last eight.

Lyn Jones’ team – ranked 20th in the world – have been well beaten in each of their three games so far but have battled bravely in just their second appearance on rugby’s biggest stage.

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Hosts’ Japan were forced to wait until 12 minutes from time to claim the bonus point as they kicked off the tournament two weeks ago, while Samoa and Ireland were also both deep into the second half before securing their fourth tries.

And Johnson has warned it might take another late show for his side to claim the extras they need.

Asked if the pressure levels had dropped any after the Scots beat Samoa to stave off the threat of a humiliating early exit, the Glasgow centre said: “Not really.

“We know we can’t go out there and just throw the ball around and think we’re going to score four tries in the first 20 minutes.

“Greig Laidlaw has been saying all week that we need to construct these games of rugby.

“Russia have improved with each game and we treat them with respect.

“It’s probably a game we should be winning but that doesn’t mean we go out there and throw the ball around and expect to win.

“We need to show them the intensity and respect we showed to Samoa and construct a game of rugby.

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“If it takes 75 minutes to get that bonus point then we’ll take it.”

The Russians have shipped 99 points already this tournament and sit rock bottom of the Scots’ group.

But Johnson is concerned that they are about to hit form at the worst possible time for his side.

“They are improving,” said the Australia-born midfielder. “They have kicked the most and in these conditions the kicking game has been a huge aspect.

Scotland v Ireland – Guinness Six Nations – BT Murrayfield
Scotland v Ireland – Guinness Six Nations – BT Murrayfield

“It’s been frustrating for me because I’ve hardly touched the ball.

“But they are improving. They are getting fitter. Against Japan and Samoa they started tiring after about 50 minutes but they went all game against Ireland on the weekend.

“Their skill set was improving against Ireland too. They were going wide-wide so we need to treat them with utmost respect.

“But we’ll concentrate on ourselves, show them our physicality and put them under as much pressure as we can.”