Finn Russell Stepping-stone for Scots is landmark for Artemyev’s Russia

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It’s the game before the big game for Scotland. It still needs to be won and won well.

The Scots hope Wednesday’s Rugby World Cup Pool A encounter with Russia is not much more than a stepping-stone to a decisive pool finale with Japan to decide who will go through to the quarterfinals.

Anything short of a win with a four-try bonus point against the Russians will be a major disappointment and cause major complications for Scotland.

Coach Gregor Townsend thinks Scotland’s reserve players will be good enough to get that done against the Bears of Russia. He made 14 changes to his team after the 34-0 win over Samoa. Significantly, halfback pairing Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell are rested completely, and captain Stuart McInally is on the bench.

Townsend made the most changes ever between World Cup games for a Scotland team.

The big moment is clearly the meeting with an unbeaten Japan in Yokohama on Sunday, a short turnaround that makes it difficult for the Scots to pick a full-strength team against Russia even if they wanted to do.

Scotland’s still got to get it done in Shizuoka.

“We have Russia first and if we don’t get the job done against Russia there is no point in even thinking about Japan because we need t

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