Player ratings: Hung on grimly
OPINION: A dominant first-half performance saw Scotland record a third win of their year-end campaign against Japan at Murrayfield.
The hosts took control thanks to tries from Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and captain Stuart Hogg – whose effort saw him become Scotland’s all-time leading try scorer.
Stuart McInally added a fourth try from a maul, but Scotland fell away in the final quarter as the Brave Blossoms came back into the game.
Gregor Townsend’s side held out to bounce back from their defeat to South Africa, and here’s how the Scotland players rated.
15. Stuart Hogg – 8
Three involvements in the move saw him cross and become Scotland’s all-time leading try scorer. A really calming influence on this Scotland side.
14. Darcy Graham – 7
Finished his try well and bounced back from four missed tackles inside the opening quarter of an hour.
13. Chris Harris – 8.5
A couple of thunderous tackles in the opening quarter from the Gloucester man, who almost got on the end of a Johnson kick through.
12. Sam Johnson – 7.5
A good carry that put Scotland on the front foot with their first attack, but showed his skill-set with a deft kick through later on.
11. Duhan van der Merwe – 7.5
Not many first half involvements for the big winger, but picked up his ninth international try with a powerful pick and go early on. A massive fend on Nakano gave the crowd something to cheer, too. Did well to deny Matsushima.
10. Finn Russell – 8
Some lovely touches in attack when Scotland found their flow. The Lions flyhalf will be forgiven an errant kick allowed Matsushima to carve through the Scotland defence as Japan took the lead. Much better off the tee despite an early miss.
9. Ali Price – 7
The Glasgow man is one of the first names on the team sheet and again lined well with Russell and Hogg to get Scotland’s attack moving. Given license to fly out the defensive line and shut Japan down.
1. Jamie Bhatti – 7
Paid the price for Scottish ill-discipline with a yellow card early in the second half, from which he didn’t return. On the whole, though, the Glasgow man showed he deserved a first Test start in more than two years with a dominant display at the scrum.
2. George Turner – 7.5
A lively performance from the returning Glasgow hooker, back in the side after injury. Contributed 14 tackles before he made way for the final 25 minutes.
3. Zander Fagerson – 7.5
Maligned last week as the Springbok pack took control, but the Lions tighthead bounced back to put the Brave Blossoms under serious pressure in the tight. A good jackal penalty in the second half.
4. Scott Cummings – 7
A first involvement of this series for the Glasgow man, who put himself about in the loose – with one notable carry in the wide expanses – and added his weight to the set-piece. Almost stole the lineout from which Japan scored, but wasn’t able to hold on.
5. Grant Gilchrist – 8
Another busy shift – at the forefront of Scotland’s defensive work early. Topped the tackle stats with 19, and ensured the lineout functioned well.
6. Jamie Ritchie – 7
Only made one carry against the Springboks but five this week and six tackles in another good showing. A handy lineout option too and works well with his Edinburgh mate Watson.
7. Hamish Watson – 7
Perhaps unlucky to be penalised at the breakdown early, and didn’t get his usual chances to show his power in attack – making just one carry in the first half.
8. Josh Bayliss – 8
The Bath man showed his worth on his first Scotland start. Contributed 14 tackles – joint second highest, while his pace and athleticism could prove handy going forward.
16. Stuart McInally – 7
Not a bad introduction – made sure of his first throw before getting on the end of the maul to score his 11th Scotland try.
17. Pierre Schoeman – 7
Some big carries in close quarters after coming on – he’s such a difficult man to put down. Made eight tackles – the most of any of Scotland’s replacements.
18. Javan Sebastian – 6
An international debut in the same week he became a dad. A couple of carries, four tackles and showed up well at the scrum. Will add to the depth at tighthead for the Six Nations, though.
19. Sam Skinner – 5
Only got the final 10 minutes and wasn’t really able to get into the game. Has been a good autumn on the whole for the Exeter man.
20. Dylan Richardson – 6
Replaced Watson for the final 10 minutes to make his international bow. Smashed with his first carry, but worked hard in his time on the field
21. Matt Fagerson – 5
On for Ritchie for the final quarter, but couldn’t impose himself on the game like he has as a starter.
22. George Horne – 5
Would no doubt have liked more game time this year-end series. Wasn’t able to inject his pace into the contest, but did help Scotland see the game out in the final 20 minutes.
23. Blair Kinghorn – 5
Didn’t see much ball after replacing Graham.
By Gavin Harper, RugbyPass