Scotland XV v Japan Select, Murrayfield, June 1
Solid Japan run-out pleases Robinson
June 1, 2010
Scotland's Johnnie Beattie bursts through the Japanese defence © PA Photos
Andy Robinson said he was pleased despite enduring some frustrating periods as his Scotland XV saw off a Japan select side 24-5 at Murrayfield in a non-cap warm-up for their upcoming two-test tour of Argentina.
Two second-half tries from late call-up John Barclay added to Alex Grove's first half effort and Simon Danielli capitalised on some sustained late pressure to claim Scotland's fourth try before Youngdae Kim earned Japan a deserved score in the final minute. Scotland had been instructed not to kick for goal from penalties to work on their attacking play.
Grove crossed on the left in the sixth minute after a switch of play and Phil Godman converted but the Japanese second string, who beat Scottish club champions Currie 35-17 on the first game of their three-match European tour, then forced Scotland back during a period of pressure in which Ayumu Goromaru missed two penalties. Masakazu Irie also failed with a drop-goal attempt as Scotland struggled to re-assert their authority.
Scotland started the second half on top but their attacking looked disjointed until Barclay burst on to Southwell's pass 20 yards out and shrugged off a challenge to touch down. Godman converted and his long pass out to the right wing allowed Barclay to cross again within five minutes.
Irie and Scotland replacement Al Kellock each spent time in the sin bin during the second half but it was Japan who enjoyed a good spell of pressure. Stand-in captain Mike Blair saved Scotland with a tackle near his line, his second try-saver of the game, and Godman's replacement Jim Thompson covered well to prevent Takayuki Yamauchi's deft kick opening up the home defence.
Scotland regained control and Danielli crossed in the corner in the 72nd minute after Scotland worked the ball to the left wing following some sustained pressure inside the Japan 22. However, the visitors finished strongly and Kim forced himself over as Scotland defended on the try line.
Robinson admitted there was ample room for improvement before the first match against the Pumas on June 12, but he felt the intensity of their workout against a spirited visiting side was good preparation. Robinson was pleased with some aspects of his team's experimental approach as they shunned penalty kicks to run with the ball at all times in front of 8,186 fans who took advantage of free admission.
"We haven't been together for two months and some of the boys haven't played for three weeks, so we needed a match of that intensity," Robinson said. "We tried out a few things, the players were under orders not to kick for the first 20 minutes. We tried to play off the 10 (Godman) and the challenge was to find some of the areas we want to play in. We got it out wide well at times. It was a good lesson for us, Japan tackled very well."
Robinson admitted some careless play meant Scotland failed to maintain their early dominance, but he was happier with the second-half display.
"We offloaded to their players a few times, that was sloppy. You see Scott MacLeod get through to the line and he was tackled and got a bit of white line fever. But that gets you thinking about it and you need that. Some of these mistakes sometimes have to happen so you can correct them for Argentina. We were trying things, it wasn't a full-on international. There were some really positive patches and now we will look at how we can improve. Overall I'm pleased."