Scotland v Japan: Scotland player ratings

Duhan van der Merwe carris fro Scotland versus Japan. Image: © Craig Watson -
Duhan van der Merwe carris fro Scotland versus Japan. Image: © Craig Watson -

15. Stuart Hogg – 8

If it wasn’t written in rock already, the full-back confirmed his status as an all-time great by shifting ahead of Ian Smith and Tony Stanger to lead the list of the nation’s top try-scorers, launching and finishing off the move which put Scotland back in front in 26 minutes following a fairly ragged spell. A reassuring presence at the back, a constant threat with ball in hand, a world-class all-rounder.

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14. Darcy Graham – 7

Missed his man as he chased Russell’s clearance straight from kick-off, but immediately made amends by thrice picking the right moment to step up and in to take man and ball, which was crucial to slowing Japan’s momentum as they looked to build through 18 phases during the first three minutes. Had a torrid time defending Japan’s all-court game at the World Cup, but demonstrated here that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Showed all his agility and explosive power when stepping back inside and propelling himself over the line line to claim Scotland ‘s third try on the strike if half time.

13. Chris Harris – 8

Man-of-the-Match. Some thunderclap hits in the first half set the tone for Scotland’s defence and mitigated against some fairly lacklustre work at the breakdown. Can be relied upon to get over the ball in the tackle, and runs pretty decent lines with conviction (making more yards than any other player in the home line-up apart from Hogg), although caught going high and turned over with 13 minus to play.

12. Sam Johnson – 7

Hard, straight running provided a focal point in the middle of the park. Solid in defence. You do wonder how much Russell would benefit from having more of a kindred spirit – such as Cam Redpath when fit again – at either 12 or 13.

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 7

Came off his wing and joined the forwards to power over for sixth minute try, but Scotland struggled to get him into the match as much as they would have liked. He did, however, send bodies flying when he got the chance, as Ryohei Yamanka experienced when he was slammed down like a patsy in a wrestling match just after the half hour mark. Brilliant work to stop Kotaro Matsushima and snaffle possession as Japan attempted to take advantage of being a man up early in the second half.


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10. Finn Russell – 6

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Four from five off the tee, and played an important part in both of Scotland’s open-play tries. Always a threat, but sometimes you wish he’d just focus on growing momentum, by having a bit more empathy for the big boys. Keep the carrot in front of the donkey when needs must! A rare talent who hasn’t quite yet developed the selfless leadership which would elevate his game to the next level. Persevering with the vice-captaincy can’t do any harm.

9. Ali Price – 7

Box-kicking less than during the last Six Nations, but when he did go that route it was bang on the money. Generally tidy service and communication.


1. Jamie Bhatti – 6

Was slightly unlucky to be the fall guy who picked up the yellow-card when referee Brendon Pickerell lost patience with Scotland’s persistent breakdown infringements early in the second half.

2. George Turner – 7

Excellent work stepping in as scrum-half when quick ball was key to facilitating Hogg’s try. Defended with his usual venom but didn’t manage to impose himself as a carrier like we know he can. Couple of stray line-outs early on.

3. Zander Fagerson – 6

Exorcised some of the demons from last week with a solid scrummaging performance, albeit against inferior opposition. Found himself exposed with a couple of mismatches in the wide channels.

4. Scott Cummings – 6

A pretty decent effort considering this was his first game since injuring his arm almost two months ago.

5. Grant Gilchrist – 7 

A huge tackle count of 19. Constantly offered himself up to carry the hard yards. The set-piece was pretty good.

6. Jamie Ritchie – 6

A few rash moments – like the penalty he gave away when Scotland had a chance to press after a long period on the back foot in the first half, and a loose pass which handed Japan a scrum when down to 14 men at the start of the second half – detracted from a generally robust and energetic 61 minutes.

7. Hamish Watson – 7

It’s hard to fathom Scotland going into last weekend’s match against the world champion Springboks without their totemic open-side in the starting XV. The national side need to get him to a point where, barring a new injury, he is ready to go in each of the team’s five games during the Six Nations … which is unlikely to be good news for any Edinburgh fans who might be hoping to see their man in action during the next two months for the first time since before the Lions tour.

8. Josh Bayliss  – 8

Arguably Scotland’s best forward in his second appearance and first start in international rugby. The Bath man came to prominence as a flanker, but came through school as a No 8, and looked entirely comfortable there. Matt Fagerson has a fight on his hands.


16. Stuart McInally – 6

Announced his arrival off the bench in the 54th minute by hitting Gilchrist at a five-metre line-out then finishing off the drive for a try inside 30 seconds of taking the field.

17. Pierre Schoeman – 6

Having been rested from starting XV, the loose-head pushed himself into the game after his 53rd minute arrival on the pitch. Of the dozen new Scotland caps during this Autumn window, this man has done most to establish himself as a sitting tenant. Lions tourist Rory Sutherland is going to have his work cut out re-claiming the No1 jersey come the Six Nations.

18. Javan Sebastian – 5

A big week for the 27-year-old Scarlets tight-head, who qualifies for Scotland through his father from Edinburgh. He missed the birth of his third child on Wednesday because he was in camp, but paid tribute to young Marcellus and partner Kaylee by stepping into the international stage for the first time as a replacement for the tiring Zander Fagerson on 63 minutes.

19. Sam Skinner – 5

Will wonder what he has to do to establish himself in the front-line after showing up well in both the tight and the loose against the might of South Africa last weekend, then only getting nine minutes off th bench at the end of this week’s game.

20. Dylan Richardson – 5

Wasn’t there to make up the numbers. Got caught with one big Japanese hit soon after his 71st minute arrival on the park, but didn’t let that phase him and followed the ball with real hunger.

21. Matt Fagerson  – 5

Like Skinner, will feel his stock has fallen this week without having had much opportunity to do anything either right or wrong,

22. George Horne –  5

Got 18 minutes at the end of a frustrating Autumn in which he’s managed just 36 minutes of game-time in total.

23. Blair Kinghorn – 5

Not much happening as a late replacement for Graham.

Scotland v Japan reaction: record breaker Stuart Hogg looks to the future

About David Barnes 3989 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The 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 Comment

  1. Scotland just can’t seem to get their attacking threat together. Really good back 3 but the Centres just aren’t delivering in attack. Is Cam Redpath the answer? Russell/Hastings at 10/12? And oh oh oh the penalty count. Against better opposition that alone would have cost us the game. And nearly did against Japan.


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