Toyota City - 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.
let Japan off the hook a little bit in the second half," he added. "But
we're here to win two games so we will look to improve for next week."
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.
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
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.
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
"We have to take it on the chin," said Japan captain Shota Horie, scorer of the home side's only try on 10 minutes.
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
"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
The teams meet again in Tokyo next weekend.