Japan V Scotland
Scotland won the opening match of their 2016 summer tour to Japan against a determined home side who pushed the visitors to the final whistle (13-26).
In high temperatures and humidity in the Toyota Stadium Scotland proved more clinical and disciplined than their hosts to maintain a 100% record against Japan at Test level.
Scotland’s experience and power created consistent pressure throughout the 80 minutes, on a Japanese side whose infringements were well punished by Greig Laidlaw’s boot, which saw the Scotland skipper finish with 16 points.
For all the positives there were some negatives, as a hamstring injury to prop Alasdair Dickinson in the third minute marred the early exchanges.
The final outcome looked slightly less obvious in the opening quarter of the match after a Greig Laidlaw penalty was quickly overtaken by a sweeping Japanese attack from a tap penalty, which created a try under the posts for their captain Shota Horie on nine minutes (7-3).
Then began an uncertain spell for the visitors but, after opting for a simpler strategy for a short spell, Scotland regrouped and maintained good field position; Laidlaw slotting two penalties to one from Yu Tamura to move within a point of the hosts (10-9).
Japan were penalised at the first scrum and again at regular intervals at the breakdown, which subsequently enabled Scotland to turn the scoreboard in their favour, before moving out of reach.
As the first half closed a penalty try also resulted in a yellow card for Japan’s replacement full-back Kotaro Matsuda as he knocked down (and on) a certain try-scoring pass for Tommy Seymour just before the interval, which the metronomic Laidlaw duly converted.
HALF-TIME: Japan 10-16 Scotland
A second yellow card three minutes later for blindside Henrik Tui for trying to halt a Scotland driving maul was exploited immediately, early in the second half.
The resulting phases saw Scotland tie in the reduced opposition numbers before tight-head prop Willem Nel burrowed over for his second Test try from as many yards.
Laidlaw added the extras before exchanging penalties once again to close out what was at times full-throttle, and others somewhat rusty, opening summer Test match.
FULL-TIME: Japan (10) 13-26 (16) Scotland
Japan: 15. Kotaro Matsushima; 14. Mifi Paea, 13. Tim Bennetts, 12. Harumuchi Tatekawa CAPTAIN, 11. Yasutaka Sasakura; 10. Yu Tamura, 9. Kaito Shigeno; 1. Keita Inagaki, 2. Shota Horie, 3. Kensuke Hatakeyama, 4. Hitoshi Ono, 5. Naohiro Kotaki, 6. Hendrik Tui, 7. Shokei Kin, 8. Amanaki Mafi. Substitites: 16. Takeshi Kizu, 17. Masataka Mikami, 18. Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19. Kotaro Yatabe, 20. Masahito Yamamoto, 21. Keisuke Uchida, 22. Kobei Ono, 23. Rikiya Matsuda.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg; 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Duncan Taylor, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Damien Hoyland; 10. Ruaridh Jackson, 9. Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN; 1. Alasdair Dickinson, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. WP Nel, 4. Richie Gray, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. John Barclay, 7. John Hardie, 8. Ryan Wilson. Substitutes: 16 Fraser Brown on for McInally (48'), 17. Rory Sutherland on for Dickinson (3'), 18. Moray Low on for Nel (64'), 19. Tim Swinson on for R.Gray (66'), 20. David Denton of for Wilson (64'), 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Peter Horne on for Taylor (66'), 23. Sean Maitland on for Hoyland (57').