Captain Stuart Hogg turned Scotland’s sole report try-scorer as Japan was held out 29-20 earlier than a thrilled crowd at Murrayfield on Saturday. Hogg’s twenty fifth profession landing took him away from Iain Smith and Tony Stanger in a primary half they flattered to complete 19-6 forward. However Japan rallied to path 26-20 with eight minutes to go, and Scotland did not make the win secure till Finn Russell’s penalty within the 79th.
The victory was a satisfying third for the Scots this autumn, beside Tonga and Australia. They crumbled within the final quarter in opposition to world champion South Africa final weekend however loved a worthwhile collection, together with debuts for 12 gamers. Additionally they paid again Japan considerably for knocking them out of the 2019 Rugby World Cup within the pool stage.
Japan got here into the match an enormous underdog after a thrashing from Eire and barely beating Portugal. However a rejig of the tight 5 and the return of former captain Michael Leitch impressed the Japanese to their finest effort of their European tour. It gave Scotland a scare.
The Scots made a optimistic begin when Duhan van Der Merwe joined a rolling maul and scored a attempt, his second in opposition to Japan this 12 months after scoring a extra conventional winger’s attempt for the British and Irish Lions in a warmup in June, additionally at Murrayfield.
However the Scots have been making a gift of a flood of penalties within the face of Japan’s affected person pressure-building phases, regardless that they have been struggling to make yards. Their factors got here from Rikiya Matsuda’s boot.
Out of nowhere, Hogg countered on midway, beat three tackles, and rejoined the assault to slide previous Matsuda and dart over the road, punching the air in delight earlier than touching down for his record-breaking attempt. Within the final motion of the half, Finn Russell looped a giant miss-out go to proper wing Darcy Graham, who minimize inside three defenders and crashed over for what should have been a deflating attempt to Japan after seemingly dominating possession.
Scotland restarted the brand new half virtually inevitably with prop Jamie Bhatti sin-binned in his first begin in additional than two years, for repeated infringements. Matsuda kicked Japan to 19-12 behind however the Scots reasserted themselves within the 54th when hooker Stuart McInally, simply on as a alternative for George Turner, compelled his approach over from a lineout on the left.
However Japan was removed from completed. Tevita Tatafu dotted down after the Scots did not cope with a lineout however Matsuda sliced his conversion try broad. Matsuda kicked his fifth penalty from an virtually similar place eight minutes later to place inside six of the house facet.
However Russell eased Scottish nerves along with his late penalty for 201 worldwide factors.