Scotland secure scrappy win over Japan

Stuart Hogg scores his 25th try while Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and replacement hooker Stuart McInally also cross the whitewash for Scotland as they beat Japan at Twickenham in their Autumn Nations Series clash

Last Updated: 20/11/21 3:20pm

    Stuart Hogg celebrates scoring his 25th try for Scotland

    Stuart Hogg celebrates scoring his 25th try for Scotland

    Captain Stuart Hogg became Scotland’s record Test try scorer as he led his side to a nervous 29-20 victory over brave Japan in their Autumn Nations Series clash at Murrayfield.

    Full-back Hogg moved past Tony Stanger and Ian Smith at the top of the all-time list as he scored his 25th try, while Scotland also scored through wings Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham, and replacement hooker Stuart McInally.

    Japan typically tried to run the ball at every opportunity and made numerous visits to Scotland’s 22, although the home side slowed the ball down each time to halt their momentum. They scored a try through loose forward Tevita Tatafu to go with five penalties for Rikiya Matsuda.

    Scotland will be unhappy with the performance but they made it three wins from their four autumn matches after victories over Tongo and Australia, to go with a defeat to world champions South Africa.

    Japan's flanker Pieter Labuschagne (C) is tackled by Scotland's wing Darcy Graham

    Japan’s flanker Pieter Labuschagne (C) is tackled by Scotland’s wing Darcy Graham

    The Scots made a positive start when Van der Merwe collected the ball following a rolling maul and pushed his way over in the left corner, with Finn Russell’s conversion attempt coming back off the post.

    Japan notched their first points of the match in the 11th minute as Matsuda kicked a close-range penalty after Scotland were penalised for using hands illegally in a ruck.

    The hosts gave away too many penalties throughout, and they had a let-off in the 15th minute when Matsuda sent his kick agonisingly wide of the posts from a tight angle after Chris Harris did not roll away after a tackle.

    The Scots were not so fortunate in the 26th minute when they once again failed to roll away, and Matsuda made no mistake in launching his penalty between the sticks from a central position, edging the Brave Blossoms in front.

    A minute later, however, Hogg took a pass from Russell and darted over the line, punching the air in delight before touching down for his record-breaking try. Russell did the honours with the conversion.

    In the last action of the first half, the Scots were on the scoreboard again when Graham received a pass from Russell wide on the right and stepped inside two Japanese defenders before dotting down over the line. Russell duly converted to give the hosts a commanding 19-6 lead at the break.

    The second half got off to a bad start for Scotland as Jamie Bhatti, making his first start in more than two years, was sent to the sin-bin in the 42nd minute for not rolling away. Matsuda successfully kicked his penalty from in front of the posts.

    Japan reduced their arrears further in the 46th minute when Matsuda booted his fourth penalty of the afternoon after Scotland were called for offside.

     Duhan van der Merwe in action for Scotland

    Duhan van der Merwe in action for Scotland

    Scotland reasserted themselves in the 54th minute when McInally, who had just entered the pitch as a replacement for George Turner, forced his way over from a lineout on the left. Russell kicked the conversion.

    Japan were not finished, however, and Tatafu brought them back into contention with their first try of the match in the 64th minute after the Scots failed to deal with a lineout. Matsuda, from a great position just to the right of the sticks, sliced his conversion attempt wide.

    Matsuda was given another penalty opportunity from an almost identical position eight minutes later and this time he made no mistake, bringing Japan within a converted try of victory.

    Any Scottish nerves were eased in the 79th minute, however, when Russell despatched a penalty to effectively seal victory against a Japan side who had ended their World Cup dream a little over two years previously.