Cotter eyes Scotland series win despite changes


Scotland must be ready for a reaction from Japan when they meet in the second game of their Test series in Tokyo on Saturday, says coach Vern Cotter.

Cotter's men were 26-13 winners first time out as they took advantage of a depleted Japan side in the capital. The Scots ran in two tries, while the boot of Greig Laidlaw added 16 points to complete their victory.

Laidlaw will not feature in game two as Cotter makes six changes to his starting XV, Henry Pyrgos taking his place at scrum-half and also assuming the captaincy.

Sean Maitland and Peter Horne join Pyrgos as new faces in the backs, while the pack sees Rory Sutherland, Moray Low and Josh Strauss come in - the latter in place of flanker John Hardie.

Despite the raft of changes Cotter expects another strong display from his side as they look to wrap up a morale-boosting series win.

"Continuity has been key for us since we began this season a year ago and in front of us is the need to put in another good, 80-minute performance against a team looking to bounce back from defeat last weekend," he said.

"It was a very tiring game and we expect something similar this weekend.

"They'll be very physical and relentless. That's how they beat South Africa only a year ago in the opening round of the Rugby World Cup, so we know to expect a committed, tenacious team."

He added: "We're looking for improvements all over the field this Saturday but especially holding on to the ball at critical times.

"Our pressure through set phase was good last weekend with a lot of time invested in upping the level of impact that can have on the game; contesting their scrums and their lineouts.

"We want to be able to control this game as best we can."

Japan will hope to curb their discipline after seeing Hendrik Tui and Rikiya Matsuda receive yellow cards in the first game - Matsuda's punishment coming after he had conceded a penalty try.

The Cherry Blossoms continue to be without Michael Leitch and Ayumu Goromaru as they settle into life in Super Rugby and Top 14 respectively, meaning greater emphasis will be on Amanaki Mafi and Tui to provide a spark.