Scotland did all they could to set up a quarter-final decider against Rugby World Cup hosts Japan by overwhelming Russia with nine tries in Shizuoka.
The Scots had few of the difficulties that other nations in the pool suffered against the Russians, scoring three tries in seven quickfire minutes midway through the first half, and claiming the try bonus point they needed just five minutes into the second half.
Young half-backs George Horne and Adam Hastings filled their boots with the stand-off bagging the first two and the scrum-half scoring a hat-trick, while George Turner, Tommy Seymour, John Barclay and Stuart McInally had the others.
Hastings converted eight of them, and the Scottish defence secured a second successive shutout, the first time that’s happened since 1964.
It means Scotland achieved their goal of two bonus point wins from the games against Samoa and Russia to set up the game against Japan scheduled for Yokohama on Sunday, although that game is now in considerable doubt of taking place at all because of Typhoon Hagibis making landfall around the Tokyo metropolitan area on Saturday.
Gregor Townsend was also able to shuffle his pack effectively and rest as many men as possible for Japan in only four days’ time, although the threat of Typhoon Hagibis hitting Tokyo this weekend could yet see that match moved or rescheduled.
A super-confident Hastings was the key to the Scots getting themselves comfortably ahead in the first half, but there was still a little impatience and poor execution at times with the Russians looking overmatched.
Russia’s tackle completion rate up until their Ireland game was at 90%, but they missed 18 in the first half alone while the Scots missed just one.
The Scottish handling wasn’t perfect at times and a couple of spills from Darcy Graham in the first few minutes stalled them from getting off to a running start, as they tried probing kicks behind the Russian wings trying to force pressure through territory.
A double spill by Horne and Graham in midfield in the Russian 22 seemed to be a lost chance, but the Scottish pack quickly had the Russian scrum buckling and turned the ball over.
From the solid setpiece the Scots attacked, Duncan Taylor ran a dummy line for Hastings to take George Horne’s pass, ghost through a gap and hold off Dimitry Gerasimov’s tackle to go over.
The stand-off converted and within three minutes had another try, after two Russian spills had surrendered their best position of the game.
Hastings caught them on the back foot with a neat kick into space near halfway, got to the ball ahead of Tagir Gadzhiev to hack it into the in-goal area, and then pounced on the ball to score after it veered away from the unlucky Russian captain Vasily Artemyev as he tried to clean up.
Hastings converted again and then threaded a pinpoint kick to have the Russians defending a lineout five metres out, and when Russian Scrum-half Dimitry Perov fired the ball out to his stand-off Ramil Gaisin, Horne smartly stepped in to intercept and dot the ball down for the third try.
Scotland were in their comfort zone now but fell into the mistake of trying to play a little too freely against a Russian side that weren’t coping with the much simpler gameplan.
They were more direct going for the bonus just before half-time with a series of pounding drives at the Russian line but this time the red wall held, as George Horne was scragged trying to duck under a tackle near the posts and knocked on to end the half.
But the essential bonus was only delayed until five minutes into the second half, when Russia ill-advisedly kicked away a knock-on advantage and Darcy Graham returned it 70 metres on a darting run past four defenders, putting the supporting George Horne in for his second and Scotland’s crucial fourth.
That was Graham’s last act of the game as George Horne went to the wing and Henry Pyrgos came on. The Scots’ clear plan to rest players as much as possible with the Japan game so close was clear with Zander Fagerson and Fraser Brown also coming off early.
The Scots added a fifth try in 50 minutes as they mauled forward effectively into the Russian 22 and Turner spun off the back to race in from 15 metres to score, Hastings adding a fifth successful conversion.
On the Scots’ next attack it was Kinghorn’s excellent grubber in behind the Russian defence that just stayed in play long enough for Seymour to score his 20th international try, and Hastings converted again from wide out.
And before the hour mark Peter Horne let a breakout down the left touchline, Pyrgos was there to carry it on from the centre’s inside pass and the younger Horne raced up in support to go in for his hat-trick try.
He should have had his fourth four minutes later, after WP Nel of all people made the big 30 metre break but Magnus Bradbury’s pass to the scrum-half/wing drifted forward.
But Scotland did complete the half-century with five minutes left through a rare score for skipper John Barclay, who took Simon Berghan’s short pass and cantered through the exhausted Russian cover to go under the posts.
Stuart McInally, on for Turner, scored the ninth and final try after another length of the field breakout against a demoralised Russian team.
Hastings was denied his hat-trick as time ran out as a Seymour pass inside to him drifted forward, but it was a mission accomplished easily for Scotland.
Scotland: Blair Kinghorn; Tommy Seymour, Duncan Taylor, Pete Horne, Darcy Graham; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Gordon Reid, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Ben Toolis; John Barclay (capt), Fraser Brown, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally for Turner 65, Simon Berghan for Fagerson 40, WP Nel for Reid 60, Grant Gilchrist for Cummings 60, Magnus Bradbury for Brown 30, Henry Pyrgos for Graham 47, Chris Harris for G Horne 65.
Russia: Vasily Arteyev (capt); German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dimitry Gerasimov, Vladislav Sozonov; Ramil Gaisin, Dmitry Perov; Valery Morozov, Stanislav Selskii, Krill Gotovtsev; Andrey Ostrikov, Evgeny Elgin; Vitaly Zhivatov, Tagir Gadzhiev, Nikita Vavilin.
Replacements: Sergey Chernyshev for Selskii 60, Azamat Bitiev for Morozov 60, Vladimir Podrezov for Gotovtsev 60, Bogdan Fedotko for Elgin 50, Andrey Garbuzov for Vavilin 57, Sergey Ianiushkin for Perov 65, Anton Sychev for Gaisin 68, Yury Kushnarev for Arteyev 57.
Ref: Wayne Barnes (RFU)