Scotland v Japan: Gregor Townsend makes seven changes for final Autumn outing

Javan Sebastian and Dylan Richardson are set to make their debuts off the bench

Josh Bayliss is to make his second Scotland appearance and his first start against Japan on Saturday. Image: Craig Watson -
Josh Bayliss is to make his second Scotland appearance and his first start against Japan on Saturday. Image: Craig Watson -

GREGOR TOWNSEND has made seven changes to the starting XV from last weekend”s match against South Africa ahead of Saturday’s final outing of Scotland’s Autumn Test Series against Japan at Murrayfield.

Meanwhile, Scarlets tight-head prop Javan Sebastian, and Cell C Sharks back-row Dylan Richardson – who both qualify to play for Scotland through their fathers – are set to make international debuts off the bench.

In the pack, George Turner returns from a rib injury at hooker, Jamie Bhatti swaps into the starting XV from the bench at loose-head prop, Scott Cummings comes back from an arm injury in the second-row, Hamish Watson is recalled at open-side flanker and Josh Bayliss will make his first start (picking up his second cap) at No8.

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Behind the scrum, Darcy Graham replaces Rufus McLean on the right wing and Sam Johnson takes over from Matt Scott at inside centre.

“We have had a positive week as a squad and want to close out our Autumn Nations Series campaign with an improved performance against a Japan side we expect to challenge us from the outset on Saturday,” said Townsend.

“This group of players have another opportunity to represent their country this weekend and show the progress we have made as a group over the past four weeks.

“The Autumn Series has been a great opportunity for us to test the depth of our squad and also build on the performances of our Six Nations campaign.

“Last Saturday’s defeat was a valuable – if painful – learning experience for us, and we’ve been encouraged by how well the squad has trained this week in response to the loss against South Africa.

“We know how much a winning performance can lift our nation and we will be giving everything for our supporters at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has recalled fit again captain Pieter Labuschagne at open-side, James Moore in the second-row, the experienced scrum-half Yutaka Nagare and winger Kotaro Matsushima to his team for Saturday’s match.


Scotland (v Japan at BT Murrayfield on Saturday 20th November @ 1pm): S Hogg©; D Graham, C Harris, S Johnson, D van der Merwe; F Russell (VC), A Price; J Bhatti, G Turner, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie(VC), H Watson, J Bayliss. Substitutes: S McInally, P Schoeman, J Sebastian, S Skinner, D Richardson, M Fagerson, G Horne, B Kinghorn.

Japan: R Yamanka; K Matsushima, S Nakano, R Nakamura, S Fifita; R Matsuda, Y Nagare; C Millar, A Sakate, A Valu, J Cornelsen, J Moore, M Leitch, P Labuschagne©, K Himeno. Substitutes: K Horikoshi, K Inagaki, S Kakinaga, B Gunter, T Tatafu, N Saito, Y Tamura, D Riley.

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About David Barnes 3912 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Is Hastings injured?

    Alas Kinghorn was once a richly promising player but hasn’t fulfilled it, IMO he is not to be trusted in any position. Ross Thompson can be trusted and should be given the opportunity before Kinghorn. Agree re 2 / 6 split V Japan is not required.

  2. Astonishing there is no Hastings on what looks lie a very strange bench. Absolutely no cover in case Finn is wayward off the tee. Beats me, it really does. Steyn must likewise wonder what he’s done to score four tries in one game and then get dropped for the next three matches. It will be interesting to see how Bayliss goes – we are still swithering on the crucial eight position after all this time and someone needs to own it.

    • Agree. Hastings is essential. He covers so many slots not least goalkicking. Surprised Thompson not on the bench. Surely Finn should not be overexposed before 6N?

  3. Magnus Bradbury is the same size/weight as Josh Strauss and has shown glimpses of what he can do but cannot seem to put in a few dominant performances in a row. Anyone with any insight into why not?

    • your analysis is spot on, but if anyone knew how to fix that…………

      We are all different, so are players. Some have huge ability but can’t maintain focus, concentration. Some have less ability but huge focus and an ability to self motivate almost fanatically. Most are some where in between. The very best have both attributes

  4. Surprised by the 6/2 splitting on the bench since Japan have fast backs and fresh legs might be needed in the final quarter. I guess Townsend’s is hoping to outmuscle Japan but as SA found out to their cost once that is easier said than done. Disappointed Huw Jones not even on the bench. Would have liked Ashman to cover Hooker as I feel he has more pace than McInally. Interested to see how Bayliss performs at No 8. He might be a better option than Matt Fagerson.

    • Disapointed bnot seeing Huw Jones anymore…
      I like Matt Fagerson, however not powerfull enough to play N°8 international in my opinion.

  5. I’d assume only Redpath, Hastings, Sutherland, Kebble, J.Gray and maybe Huw Jones missing from a full strength squad. (I personally like Toolis as our best securer of line out ball)

  6. Seems a bit strange to include a 6/2 bench split against Japan of all teams, but I’m aware the coaching staff have a bit more ability, knowledge and experience than I do. Javan Sebastian looks a very solid human being.

  7. Cannot grumble about back’s from Hogg to Price. We have good squad depth in the backs and those not in the squad. Not sure if we could have gone 5/3 with the bench guys and put Steyn or even McLean in again from the bench. Japan are not going to present the physical challenge of South Africa but are going to play fast. I think Gregor seems to be less inclined to try different players and combo’s than to win as many games as he can. However with France 2023 heading our way , to me testing different players for arguably the big prize is my way to go.

    • I couldn’t care less about the RWC. I am desperate for Scotland to finally win a 6N though and want us to focus on winning, not building for the future. The time for building is over, the time to deliver on our promise is now. Otherwise, some of those players who’ve been at the vanguard of Scotland’s improvement will soon be retiring with no winners medals to show for it.

  8. True…… no Hastings!!!!

    GT really likes Harris, I’m likely missing something but……..

    Lack of a Josh Strauss type 8 is my main concern, lots of good mobile back rows but……….

    • Kyle must have been so disapointed not in the team V SA.
      Hope there is nothing wrong between him and Gregor…

  9. No Kyle Steyn – 4 tries then dropped. Sebastian a big laddie. Very interesting to see what Bayliss can do. Kinghorn blessed by his versatility.

    • Kyle must have been so disapointed not in the team V SA.
      Hope there is nothing wrong between him and Gregor…

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