Japan 16-21 Scotland: Vern Cotter praises Scots' character

Josh Strauss is held up by the Japanese defence
Scotland flanker Josh Strauss carried hard but was well marked by Japan's defence

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter praised the character of his side to "grind out" their 21-16 win over Japan despite an underwhelming performance in Tokyo.

The hosts scored a brilliant first-half try and had the Scots under severe pressure at times after the interval.

But from 16-9 down, four penalties from Greig Laidlaw - who had come on for Henry Pyrgos - saw the visitors home.

"If we can have frustrating days and a win at the end of them all the time, I will be happy," Cotter 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, 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.

"No coach is ever going to be totally happy and I know we will find parts we need to improve on. It will be a focus next time we come together."

Gordon Reid carries the ball against Japan in Tokyo
Gordon Reid and his fellow front-rowers brought some vigour to Scotland's second-half effort

Assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys praised the impact of replacement front-rowers Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown and WP Nel, who came on together for the second half in place of Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally and Moray Low, and earned Scotland some scrum dominance.

"I thought they were excellent," Humphreys told BBC Scotland. "We wanted some energy and they certainly gave us that.

"We had to change things up, we were probably over-playing a bit in the first half. We decided to make it a bit more conservative and try to force them into some errors.

"It was probably a game we would have lost just over 12 months ago. The character we showed was fantastic - five metres from our own line, defending 13 or 14 phases, and we managed to keep them out."

Referee 'disrespected' Japan - Hammett

Defeated Japan coach Mark Hammett believes Scotland were allowed to get away with slowing the ball down without punishment during a vital period of the second half.

"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. 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."

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