Finn Russell certain Scotland can hit back from opening loss to South Africa

It was Gregor Townsend’s side’s lowest-scoring outing since their first game of the 2019 World Cup.

Anthony Brown
Monday 11 September 2023 08:06 BST
Finn Russell was dejected after Scotland’s defeat on Sunday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Finn Russell was dejected after Scotland’s defeat on Sunday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Frustrated Finn Russell hopes a two-week break between matches will allow Scotland to regroup and get Sunday’s demoralising World Cup opener against South Africa out of their system.

The Scots were unable to spark their swashbuckling attacking game as they crashed 18-3 to the Springboks in Marseille, losing the second half 12-0.

It was Gregor Townsend’s side’s lowest-scoring outing since their first game of the 2019 World Cup when they were defeated 27-3 by Ireland.

Talisman Russell said: “I’m very frustrated with the result but also with the second-half. I don’t think we showed a true reflection of the team that we are. It’s very frustrating.”

The Scots do not play again until they face Tonga in Nice on Sunday, 24 September.

When they return to action, they know they must win all three of their remaining games – the other two are against Romania and Ireland – if they are to have a chance of emerging from the formidable Pool B to reach the quarter finals.

“This was potentially the situation we were going to be in after the first game,” said Russell. “Ideally it wouldn’t have been, but now we’re in this situation we need to pick ourselves back up, we need to get going.

“We’ve got Tonga then Romania so we need to go into these games as best prepared as we can and looking to play as best we can.

“We had a 10-minute period where we let South Africa get two tries so we’ll chat about how we can get better after that second half and coming out firing straight away (after half-time) so that doesn’t happen again.

“As frustrated as we are, there is a lot to work on and still everything to play for.”

The Scotland players have been given time off with their families in the early part of this week to recover from the mental and physical demands of facing the world champions in their first game.

Russell, competing at his third World Cup, has vowed that they will come back ready for their must-win game against Tonga.

“We’ve got two weeks now so we’ll have the next few days just getting away from rugby,” said the 30-year-old. “That was very physically demanding and mentally as well.

“The next few days we’ll get away from rugby, refresh ourselves and come back on Thursday and start preparing for Tonga. That’s a massive game for us.

“We’ve got everything to play for now and to an extent nothing to lose. As tough as it is to take, in sport you have to bounce back as quick as you can and I think the boys will do that.”

Stand-off Russell was in the wars on Sunday and it looked like he may be forced off in the first half after a heavy collision left him grounded and receiving lengthy treatment.

“I’m alright,” he said. “I got a shot in the ribs and I think I was just pretty badly winded thankfully.

“The second one was a stinger which happens in rugby. These collisions happen and that’s part of it. Thankfully there’s nothing that bad.

“I’ll be good to go the next game.”

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