Rugby World Cup Pool B: Scotland tackle underdog heroes Japan
Wednesday’s Rugby World Cup action is headlined by a battle between giant-killing Japan and Six Nations bottom-dwellers Scotland in Pool B.
Having blown the group wide open with perhaps the biggest shock in rugby history against South Africa, the big question is can the Brave Blossoms repeat the trick against Celtic opposition?
Coral believe that dramatic Japanese victory was clearly a one-off and is their first at the Rugby World Cup since 1991, as the improving Scots are firm odds-on favourites at 1/9 for victory.
The Springboks were even shorter, though, and left humbled by the Asian nation that have hosting duties for the next edition of this tournament four years from now.
Japan, who count Scotland among five elite rugby nations they have beaten before, are 11/2, meanwhile, for a second Pool B win inside a week, and the mood in their camp will be jubilant.
Vern Cotter is taking no chances with this game in Gloucester, and selects key player Stuart Hogg after admitting the sensational South Africa result gave him a sleepless night.
“We expect them to be just as ferocious, just as driven and well-organised against us,” the Scotland head coach said of the Japanese. “The result confirmed a lot of what we thought about them.
“I think everyone was impressed by their commitment. They got the result because they worked hard and with accuracy. They identified a number of things and will have prepared for us too, so we know we’ll be getting something well thought out.”
Full back Hogg is an 11/10 anytime scorer chance in this game to cross for his 10th international try, while Brave Blossoms outstanding performer Ayumu Goromaru is 9/2 in the same market. The onus shall fall on both for their respective countries.
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Any thoughts of Scotland repeating their record 100-8 win over Japan from 2004 can be dispensed with. The spirit and courage shown by the Asian outfit is not something that simply melts away amid the euphoria of their incredible achievement.
Cotter’s crew are fresh, however, with this being their first outing in Pool B, and a weekend watching brief could actually work in their favour. The Scots look a great price for a relatively narrow margin of victory between 11 and 20 points at 13/5, with Brave Blossoms players potentially left drained by the experience and media coverage.
Coral’s top tip: Hogg has crossed against tougher opposition than this, so take his anytime odds of 11/10 for a try that tempers Japanese exuberance.