Finn Russell Rugby World Cup 2019: Scotland back on track after securing vital bonus-point win over Samoa

Finn Russell These items are smart!

Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

Last Sunday’s crushing defeat to Ireland, combined with Japan’s shock win over Joe Schmidt’s side, had left the Dark Blues on the verge of a humiliating early exit.

But their destiny know rests firmly in their own hands after thrashing the Pacific Islanders 34-0 at Kobe’s Misaki Stadium.

Sean Maitland and Grieg Laidlaw both crossed over during a frenetic first half, while Stuart Hogg split the posts with a huge drop goal to give the Scots the morale boost they needed after their shambolic display in Yokohama eight days earlier.

And two penalty tries after the break ensured the Dark Blues walked away with maximum points.

The Scots must now repeat the trick against Russia a week on Wednesday – and if they do that they can seal a place in the last eight by defeating Japan while denying the tournament hosts a bonus point in their final Pool A game.

World Rugby rules meant the retractable roof was left closed on the 30,000 seater arena, ensuring temperatures of almost 30 degrees and humidity levels above 80 per cent inside.

The Scotland players will seldom have played in conditions like this and their discomfort was obvious within minutes of kick-off as the sweat poured down their faces.

There were spills, thrills and slips from the off as both teams had to contend with the moisture coating both the ball and the pitch.

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Finn Russell Five things we learned as Scotland get back on track against Samoa

The Scots were desperate for a fast start, but all they got from the opening quarter was a ninth-minute Laidlaw penalty after Melani Matavao was pulled up for a high tackle on Magnus Bradbury.

There were moments when frustration could have got the better of Townsend’s men as their error count mounted.

Finn Russell almost put his team in trouble with a knock-on inside his own 22, while Laidlaw ruined some good work by the forwards when he overcooked a pass that even the 6ft 6ins Jonny Gray could not catch.

But the breakthrough on the half-hour mark was just what the Dark Blues needed to release the tension.

Finn Russell Scotland's World Cup campaign is back on track (Reuters)

Scotland’s World Cup campaign is back on track (Reuters)

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