Scots easily see off Japan
Scotland survived two second half scares to get their November Test campaign off to a winning start against a plucky Japanese side with a 42-17 victory.
Scotland survived two second half scares to get their November Test campaign off to a winning start against a plucky Japanese side at Murrayfield with a 42-17 victory on Saturday.
The Scots led 11-3 at half-time, but tries by left wing Kenki Fukuoka twice pegged back the gap to a single point before the hosts pulled clear with four tries in the final 25 minutes.
Scotland bagged six tries in all, wing Tommy Seymour claiming a brace on his home debut and Greig Laidlaw, Alasdair Dickinson, Duncan Weir and Sean Lamont also crossing the opposition whitewash.
The Scots lined up without the injured Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser, Maitland switching from the wing to full-back and Lamont and Seymour filling the vacant berths out wide.
Seymour, born in Nashville, Tennessee, was making his first home start for his mother's native country, as was his Glasgow teammate, lock Tim Swinson, both having been blooded on the summer tour to South Africa.
It was the Scots who made the better start, putting the 'Brave Blossoms' on the back foot from the off. They took the lead in the seventh minute, scrum-half Laidlaw landing a penalty from the right after the Japanese front row were punished for failing to bind correctly.
Japan might have struck back but after building some promising attacking momentum the move came to a juddering halt when centre Craig Wing was shunted backwards by Swinson.
Thereafter, the Scots regained the upper hand. Laidlaw sent a second penalty attempt, from wide on the right, slamming into the near post in the 17th minute but five minutes later the Edinburgh player made amends with his third pot at the posts, doubling the home lead to 6-0.
It took Scotland half an hour to fully get into the attacking groove but they did so with a vengeance, Maitland making a half break on the left before play was switched to the right and drives by Swinson and David Denton set up Seymour for a score in the corner.
Laidlaw pushed the conversion wide, though, and after full back Ayumu Goromaru nailed a 37th minute penalty for Japan, Scotland had to settle for an 11-3 half-time lead when Lamont followed up a dazzling break by Nick De Luca to cross the try-line - only for the score to be chalked off by television match official Marshall Kilgore because of blocking by Swinson.
Japan cut the gap to 11-10 three minutes into the second half. Fukuoka scored in the left corner, finishing off a move launched by scrum-half Fumiaka Tanaka and Goromaru converted.
There were sighs of relief when Laidlaw dived over to score from a close range ruck four minutes later. His successful conversion made it 18-10 to Scotland.
Again, Japan hit back, Goromaru punching a hole in the home defence and Fukuoka scooting over for his second try on the right. Goromar's conversion closed the gap to 18-17.
Then it was Scotland's turn again. Jackson sent a long looping pass out to the right and Seymour crossed for his second try.
Laidlaw missed the conversion but Scotland maintained their momentum, replacement prop Dickinson scoring under the posts in the 64th minute and Laidlaw adding the conversion to make it 30-17.
Five minutes later replacement fly-half Weir squeezed over to score in the left corner. Then, with two minutes remaining, Lamont touched down a loose kick and Weir converted to complete an ultimately comfortable victory
Tries: Seymour 2, Laidlaw, Dickinson, Weir, Lamont
Cons: Laidlaw 2, Weir
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Tries: Fukuoka 2
Cons: Goromaru 2
Scotland: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 David Denton, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Al Dickinson, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Richie Gray, 20 John Barclay, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Japan: 15 Ayumu Goromar, 14 Toshiaki Hirose (captain), 13 Male Sau, 12 Craig Wing, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Kosei Ono, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Broadhurst, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Shinya Makabe, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Yusuke Nagae, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Hitoshi Ono, 20 Takashi Kikutani, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yoshikazu Fujita
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)