Scotland scotch Japan’s hopes of payback time
Scotland punctured Japanese hopes of World Cup payback by beating the Brave Blossoms 26-13 with relative ease in the first of two tests in the Far East.
Scotland punctured Japanese hopes of World Cup payback by beating the Brave Blossoms 26-13 with relative ease Saturday in the first of two tests in the Far East.
Captain Greig Laidlaw kicked four penalties and added two conversions for the visitors, who inflicted Japan's only loss of their astonishing World Cup effort under Eddie Jones last year.
“It was a good win”, Laidlaw told reporters. “We probably need to tighten up a little bit more and be more accurate. We let Japan off the hook a little bit in the second half but we're here to win two games so we will look to improve for next week”.
Japan stunned mighty South Africa in their opening game at the World Cup but, after a four-day turnaround, Scotland took the wind out of their sails with a crushing 45-10 win in their next match. The Japanese squad selected for Scotland's visit contains only 12 players who helped them beat the Springboks, Samoa and the United States.
Regular skipper Michael Leitch, Ayumu Goromaru, Fumiaki Tanaka and Male Sa'u were all unavailable to interim coach Mark Hammett due to injury, with international retirements and sevens commitments further depleting their ranks. But they wilted after a promising start in Toyota, a penalty try awarded for a deliberate knock-on by Rikiya Matsuda just before halftime allowing the Scots to go into the break leading 16-10.
With Matsuda and Hendrik Tui both sin-binned, tighthead prop Willem Nel bulldozed over from close range three minutes into the second half to stretch Scotland's advantage - one that never looked in any real danger.
“We have to take it on the chin”, said Japan captain Shota Horie, scorer of the home side's only try on 10 minutes. “We're extremely disappointed. We made a lot of mistakes and gave them a lot of chances to score. That's something we need to look at and improve before next week”.
Japan came into this game on the back of a 26-22 victory over Canada in Vancouver but Scotland had not played any international rugby since finishing fourth in the Six Nations tournament in March. “The scoreline was closer”, deadpanned Laidlaw when asked how different Japan were from the side they overran at the World Cup. “Credit to the players and coaches, they're improving all the time”.
The teams meet again in Tokyo next weekend.
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