Scottish Students 71,

Japan Students 47

SCOTLAND have qualified for the semi-finals of the Student Rugby World Cup by defeating Japan in an extraodinarily high-scoring game at the University of Pretoria stadium yesterday. In Tuesday's semi-final at Johannesburg, Scotland will face South Africa, who yesterday defeated Wales 30-25.

Japan again showed that, at any level in rugby, they are difficult opponents. Scotland at one stage early in the second half led 56-11 but allowed the Japanese the chance to show their try-scoring skills.

``We should have buried them when we had the chance,'' said assistant coach Ian Barnes. ``In retrospect, we made too many substitutions.''

The Scots seemed set for a certain place in the semi-finals after an impressive first half and an opening phase in the second period that reaped 17 points in just eight minutes.

They replaced prop Millan Browne with Steve Lithgow and Paul Jennings with Stuart Grimes. But when Scott Murray came off with a blistered heel, Jennings was obliged to re-enter the fray. Behind the scrum Stuart Lang was substituted by Derek Lee and, in the only enforced change, Cameron Murray was replaced by Craig Sangster after the Hawick centre took a knock on his knee.

Japan came back from 45 points down to narrow the lead to just 14, at 61-47, with a second-half haul of six tries.

But the watching South Africans would have done well to concentrate on the Scots' first-half performance. They rucked magnificently and moved the ball effectively to score five tries.

Stand-off Duncan Hodge accounted for the first 10 points with a penalty and the conversion of his own interception try. From pirated lineout ball Hodge and Murray Craig carved out an opening for full back Campbell Aitken to release Lang on a try-scoring run. Craig, the steadying influence in midfield, put wing Steve Reed in for the Scots' third try before Scott Murray, impressive at the lineout, was assisted over the line by Darren Burns for a touchdown.

Scotland finished the half with a second try by Reed, the chunkily built wing coming from the blindside to carve a clear route to the line.

The Japanese, however, hit back with a try by flanker Hiroki Ando to add to the two penalties by stand-off Masato Shinno.

The Scots added three tries early in the second half from Lang, Craig, and Aitken but then allowed Japan to outscore them six tries to one, a third touchdown by Lang.

Scotland reasserted themselves in the final few minutes with a penalty by Hodge and a fine try by hooker Gordon Bulloch. Hodge kicked the conversion - his sixth of the match - to finish with a 26-point haul.

Scottish Students - C Aitken; S Lang (repl by D Lee), C Murray (repl by C Sangster), M Craig, S Reed; D Hodge, G Beveridge; M Browne (repl by S Lithgow), G Bulloch, A Binnie, P Jennings, D Burns, captain, D Clark, S Murray (repl by S Grimes), N Broughton.


Scotland 71, Japan 49; South Africa 30, Wales 25; France 38, New Zealand 29; Argentina 46, Italy 12.