McInally warns Scotland against reckless pursuit of bonus point

Gregor Townsend’s men are playing catch-up following their opening defeat to Ireland.

By Press Association Published: 29 September 2019 - 10.05am

Stuart McInally has warned Scotland they will be putting their World Cup hopes at risk if they embark on a wild bonus-point chase against Samoa.

Japan’s shock win over Ireland on Saturday means Gregor Townsend’s side must realistically take maximum points in each of their three remaining Pool A matches.

That would leave qualification in their own hands, but captain McInally knows that will be easier said than done.

Stuart McInally is captaining Scotland in Japan
Stuart McInally is captaining Scotland in Japan (Aaron Favila/AP)

And the Edinburgh hooker does not want his team distracted by the need to run up four tries as they march out at Kobe’s Misaki Stadium on Monday to face the Pacific Islanders.

The Dark Blues skipper said: “We obviously watched the Japan game and we’ve done the numbers. We know the implications and what it could mean for us.

“But we just have to go out and win the game first and foremost.

“In my experience, if you start chasing anything else before the game starts then you can get into a bit of trouble.

“So we’ll go out, try to win the game and, if we’re in a position in the last 20 minutes to go for that bonus point, then of course we’re aware of what we have to do.

“We have to focus on beating Samoa because that’s a big challenge. They are a really good side who put a lot of points on Russia and didn’t concede a try. So we’re very aware of the threat they have.

“You see Japan beating Ireland and it reminds you that anyone can beat anyone.”

The hosts lit a fire under the fight for the last eight as they slayed the Irish in Yokohama.

Ireland suffered a shock defeat to tournament hosts Japan
Ireland suffered a shock defeat to tournament hosts Japan (Adam Davy/PA)

It was the Brave Blossoms’ second giant-killing act in as many tournaments following on from their famous 2015 victory over South Africa.

The consequences could yet be dire for the Scots – who remain pointless after being well beaten by Ireland in their opener – if Japan go on to deny them a place in the knockout rounds, but McInally confessed part of him was pleased to see their group rivals take down the world’s second best side.

“I was very impressed by the Japanese side, I thought they played exceptionally well and deserved to win,” he said.

“It was obviously a disappointing result for Scotland but it was great to see what it did for Japan, and to see how much it means to the country as a whole as obviously they’ve put a lot into the World Cup.

“But I feel that nothing changes for us. The task is still the same. It may be a little harder in terms of needing bonus points now, but ultimately we’re just going to need to win all of our games to get out of the pool.

“That wouldn’t have changed whether we’d beaten Ireland or not, we still need to win all our games because you don’t know what else is going to happen. Nothing changes for us as a group.”

Townsend’s team got their first look at the 30,000-seater arena that will stage their second match during Sunday’s captain’s run.

Tournament rules mean the venue’s retractable roof will remain closed and McInally is bracing himself the action to get hot and humid.

Scotland got used to their surroundings in Kobe
Scotland got used to their surroundings in Kobe (Aaron Favila/AP)

“The fact it’s an indoor stadium keeps the heat and the moisture in,” he said.

“We didn’t do too much running around in the team run just to save the legs and we were definitely sweating.

“It’s just another challenge. The pitch and the conditions are the same for both teams. We just can’t wait to get out there.”