Scotland coach Vern Cotter happy to grind out win in Japan

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter declared himself happy with Scotland's 21-16 victory over Japan despite an underwhelming performance in Tokyo.
Scotland's Josh Strauss tries to find a way through the Japan defence. Picture: Koji Sasahara/APScotland's Josh Strauss tries to find a way through the Japan defence. Picture: Koji Sasahara/AP
Scotland's Josh Strauss tries to find a way through the Japan defence. Picture: Koji Sasahara/AP

The Scotland team were under the cosh for large chunks of the game but, apart from leaking a brilliant first-half try to Kaito Shigeno, their defence held and in the end their superior scrum paid dividends.

Henry Pyrgos contributed three of the seven penalties – with Greig Laidlaw adding the other four – which eventually saw Scotland seal a 2-0 series win over their hosts.

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And though Cotter saw room for improvement, the New Zealand-born coach was satisfied to pick up the win.

“If we can have frustrating days and a win at the end of them all the time, I will be happy,” he said.

“It was a game that in the context of the end of a season and a long year, to get the win, to grind it out, I am happy.

“I am happy with the character, I’m happy with the way the team applied pressure and finally got the result. It could have gone the other way.

“We weathered a very difficult first half, they flew into us and lifted the intensity from last week, we felt that. It took us a while to wear them down, but we are happy with the result.

“Our last game was the loss against Ireland – so some things are coming right. No coach is ever going to be totally happy and I know we will find parts we need to improve, we saw some of them here. It will be a focus next time we come together.”

Pyrgos, captain on the night, reckoned Japan had stepped up a level from the first Test, but his side coped.

He said: “They played at a really high tempo, but that’s Japan I suppose. Every time we have played them in the last year we know that is what they bring so we needed to deal with that.

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“They scored a good try but the frustrating thing for us was that we could not hold onto the ball.”

Losing Japan coach Mark Hammett claimed his side had been “disrespected” after falling to another defeat against the Scots.

He also believed that during a vital period in the second half Scotland were allowed to get away with slowing the ball without being punished.

“I’m really, really proud of the effort. We witnessed a really outstanding game here in Tokyo,” he said.

“I don’t think the best team won and even talking to the Scottish coaches, they agree. At the end of the day the score is on the board and it will go down as a lost Test match and we are obviously very, very disappointed.

“I feel that perhaps the last two Tests we have been slightly disrespected as a team and what we can achieve. In all that attack, particularly in the second half, we did not get the reward.

“There was obviously a reason the ball was being slowed down. We worked really hard for that but did not get the outcome we believe we should have had.”