Scotland ground out a 21-16 victory over Japan in Tokyo on Saturday to win the series 2-0.
Vern Cotter’s charges were once again far from their best against a weakened yet gallant Japan side.
The hosts were the better attacking team and scored the only try of the game, but a lack of discipline inside their own half laid the foundation for a Scottish win, with scrumhalf Henry Pyrgos and his replacement Greig Laidlaw converting seven penalties.
Japan flyhalf Yu Tamura’s sixth-minute penalty, sandwiched between two from Pyrgos, saw the hosts trail 6-3. However, a wonderfully executed try by scrumhalf Kaito Shigeno put Japan in the lead for the first time.
Pyrgos reduced the deficit with a penalty, but Tamura restored Japan’s lead with two successful attempts at goal either side of the break as they led 16-9.
This prompted Cotter to empty his bench, which included a Test debut for Stormers utility back Huw Jones. The replacements made a difference, as Scotland were able to keep possession for longer sequences of play.
Laidlaw, who was on for Pyrgos, took over the captaincy and kicking duties and turned things around for Scotland.
With Japan’s defence under pressure, Laidlaw slotted four consecutive penalties to win the game for the visitors.
Japan – Try: Kaito Shigeno. Conversion: Yu Tamura. Penalties: Tamura (3).
Scotland – Penalties: Henry Pyrgos (3), Greig Laidlaw (4).
Japan – 15 Rikiya Matsuda, 14 Male Sa'u, 13 Tim Bennetts, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Yu Tamara, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Shoukei Kin, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Naohiro Kotaki, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keita Inagaki.
Subs: 16 Takeishi Kizu, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Ryu Kolinasi Holani, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Kosei Ono, 23 Mifi Poseti Paea.
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos (c), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Moray Low, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 John Hardie, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Sean Lamont.
Photo: Scotland Rugby