After his brace against South Africa, Scotland captain Stuart Hogg strikes again in a 29-20 win over Japan to set an independent goalscoring record for his country
Stuart Hogg becomes Scotland’s all-time leading try-scorer
Stuart Hogg set a new Scotland record today after scoring against Japan at Murrayfield. The Scotland captain broke through in the 27th minute to register his 25th try for his country – surpassing the 24 scored by Tony Stanger and Ian Smith in the all-time list.
Hogg equalized these two wingers after his brace against South Africa last weekend. During that 30-15 loss, he set a world record for most practice starts at the back, his figure of 87 – including two for the Lions – eclipsing Rob Kearney’s total of 86. .
Hogg’s historic moment came when he took a scorching break after fielding a clearance kick and found Chris Harris. The ball was recycled, George Turner moved the ball quickly from the ruck and Hogg took the scoring pass from Finn Russell.
The score, converted by Russell, gave Scotland back the lead (12-10) against the team which had dramatically ended its ambitions for the 2019 World Cup in the group stage.
Japan had calmed the crowds in Edinburgh with 18 phases in the first three minutes, but they were on their heels soon after when Duhan van der Merwe capped a series of close-range pushes with a pick and go. It was the Lions winger’s ninth try in just 13 Scottish tests.
But Scotland then endured frustration as they repeatedly ran into referee Brendon Pickerill during the blackout, earning them a team warning. Rikiya Matsuda took two penalties to put Japan ahead before Hogg’s typically decisive intervention.
The hosts breathed easier as Darcy Graham snuck in just before half-time for a try that Russell converted again. Scotland led 19-6 at the break.
Japan needed the next score and they got it when Jamie Bhatti became the latest breakdown culprit. The loose head was penalized for not rolling, just as Harris and Scott Cummings had failed to do earlier, and Pickerill’s patience had run out. He sent Bhatti to the sin-bin and Matsuda kicked the points, 19-9.
When it quickly turned 19-12, Japan had reduced the backlog to one score and Scotland had to fight to regain the initiative.
However, Japan struggled painfully against the maul behind the wheel this fall and Scotland regained the lead when hooker Stuart McInally, shortly after replacing Turner, completed a well-executed roster practice. Russell’s conversion made it 26-12.
The visitors continued to throw the ball with intention, but their only try came from an unlikely source. Ryoto Nakamura’s excellent kick from his own half in the corner gave Japan a 50:22 roster. The ball was won in a messy fashion and substitute Tevita Tatafu thundered through Hamish Watson’s tackle attempt to score.
Matsuda delivered the kick but picked up his fifth penalty early in the final ten minutes to keep hope for only their second victory over Scotland in nine attempts in total.
Those hopes were finally extinguished when Russell netted a penalty one minute to go, the kick giving the Scots a two-goal lead at 29-20 full-time.
Harris has been named Man of the Match and Scotland must reflect on a satisfying fall of three out of four wins, losses to Tonga, Australia and Japan accompanied by loss to world champions South Africa .
One concern will be their inability to maintain possession, with their most phases against Japan just seven. “Scotland are not straightforward enough,” said television specialist John Barclay.
Asked about his record-breaking achievement, Hogg said: “There is no better feeling than representing Scotland, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I am still living the dream. Being part of this group is very, very special and something that I will never take for granted.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain); Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Josh Bayliss.
Substitutes: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Matt Fagerson, 22 George Horne, 23 Blair Kinghorn.
Japan: Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Shogo Nakano, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita; Rikiya Matsuda, Yutaka Nagare; Craig Millar, Atsushi Sakate, Asaeli Ai Valu, Jack Cornelsen, James Moore, Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagné (capt), Kazuki Himeno.
Substitutes: 16 Kosuke Horikoshi, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Ben Gunter, 20 Tevita Tatafu, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Dylan Riley.
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to have the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.