The Verdict: Scotland player ratings v Japan (Summer Test 1)

Perfunctory; adjective; (of an action) done without energy or enthusiasm because of habit or because it is expected. From the Latin perfungi meaning “to get through with”.

This was very much an end of season game, with a sense of obligations being met but with the real focus being on minimising any possible damage. This was best summed up by Scotland playing out the last 90 seconds with a series of rucks, controlling the ball as if they were protecting a 1-point lead and then getting it off the park as soon as the 80 minutes was up. There was no hint that the side might want to exploit that last risk-free passage of play to show what they are capable of.

BACKS

Stuart Hogg – 5
Just a single clean break where he managed to find some space against a stifling Japanese defence. Loses a mark due to absolutely butchering a near certain try for Sean Maitland by not passing the ball.
Tommy Seymour – 6
Peerless in the air and his all-round effort made some fairly average kicking work out reasonably well for Scotland. Gave it the old lead foot and did himself out of a try late on.
Duncan Taylor – 4
Easily his poorest showing since taking a grip on the dark blue number 13 shirt. Struggled in attack (eg kicking the ball away in the 22) and defence (eg no man’s land for the Japanese try).
Matt Scott – 6
A tidy game for the Gloucester-bound centre although attacking opportunities were limited – with the Japanese frequently only committing the tackler to ruck situations the midfield was extremely congested.
Damien Hoyland – 5
So very close to scoring a try on his first international start despite rarely seeing the ball out on the left flank. Could do with making his tackles stick a bit more consistently.
Ruaridh Jackson – 4
Just too many errors. Rustiness won’t have helped but his habit of compounding a mistake by following it with another one (giving the appearance it’s because he’s dwelling on the original cock-up) has dogged him since he first came on the scene.
Greig Laidlaw – 4
What to do with quick ruck ball? Slow it down. Turnover ball? Slow it down. Ball in the opposition 22? Slow it down. Ball when you have a 2 man advantage? Slow it down.

FORWARDS

Alasdair Dickinson – 5
Made 3 tackles in his 3 minutes on the pitch so by extrapolation he was due to make 80 if he stayed on for the full match…
Stuart McInally – 6
Put in a solid shift, although not one that’s likely to guarantee him selection if Ross Ford is fit again next week. Serious brain fade when Scotland dummied the maul from a lineout and he forgot where he was supposed to be!
WP Nel – 7
A rumbustious presence in defence, attack and in particular at the scrum where he lead his 2 junior Edinburgh colleagues well. Had work to do when he picked up the ball for his try but made it look easy.
Richie Gray – 6
A closer-to-5-than-7 for Richie who, in fairness, did well considering his preparation would not have been ideal after his late arrival in Japan. Lineout work was generally very good.
Jonny Gray – 6
And a closer-to-7-than-5 for Jonny who out-worked his big brother in attack and defence but still couldn’t quite punch the holes that were needed in the massed ranks of the Japanese defence.
John Barclay – 7
Looked a little heavy-legged during the build-up to the Japanese try. He was very effective at disrupting the home side’s possession though and preventing them consistently playing at the high tempo they wanted.
John Hardie – 6
Top tackler on the night as he threw himself around the Toyota Stadium with his usual reckless abandon. Less of a factor at the breakdown than Barclay.
Ryan Wilson – 7
A fine all-round game as he demonstrated what he can bring when played in his strongest position. Thumping hits early on and Scotland’s most consistent source of front foot ball throughout.

SUBSTITUTES

Fraser Brown – excellent turnover late but one poor throw at the lineout.
Rory Sutherland – 6. Maybe didn’t dominate the scrum the way Al Dickinson might have but deserves huge credit for giving nothing away at the setpiece and providing good enery around the park for his full shift.
Moray Low – not much to do other than tackle as Japan looked for a late score.
Tim Swinson – disrupted a Japanese maul well.
David Denton – carried well and brought a bit of bosh to the Scottish back row.
Henry Pyrgos – unused – as he has been on each of the last 5 occasions he’s been selected to back-up Greig Laidlaw. Vern Cotter doesn’t seem to be too keen to move away from Scotland’s reliance on the wee Borderer.
Peter Horne – very little to do.
Sean Maitland – good bit of linking play after a burst by Hoggy.

The ‘Official’ On Top Of The Moon Scot of the match was…Ryan Wilson. Made yards in some very heavy traffic as he carried more than anyone in a blue jersey. His defensive stats don’t stand out from the crowd but the tackles he did make were excellent – driving opponents back and helping create turnovers.


For the avoidance of doubt:
10 – DC v the Lions, 2nd Test 2005
9 – excellent
8 – very good
7 – good
6 – decent
5 – pass marks
4 – poor
3 – very poor
2 – waste of space
1 – waste of oxygen
0 – comatose
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