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RWC Scorecard: Player ratings for Scotland against Japan

RWC Scorecard: Player ratings for Scotland against Japan

Some Scotland fans were apprehensive in advance of their team's Rugby World Cup opener against Japan.

After all, the Cherry Blossoms had pulled off one of the greatest shocks in sporting history by beating the mighty South Africans last weekend.

Yet, when it mattered for Vern Cotter's men, they were defensively solid and ruthlessly efficient in capitalising on their opponents' weaknesses.

There was little to separate the sides at the interval, but once the Scots scored their first try, the floodgates opened.

And a 45-10 triumph and a bonus point for the SRU's finest added up to a convincing launch to their tournament.

Here are the rankings for those in the dark blue.

  (STV)
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1. Alasdair Dickinson: He's not one of life's flashy fellows, but you don't want Fred Astaire in the front row of your pack. Initially, the Scots creaked in being pushed backwards for Japan's early try, but he grew in stature the longer the contest raged. 7/10.

2. Ross Ford: Quietly, methodically, the Borderer gets on with his job and very rarely lets the side down. There was one line-out which didn't go to plan, but otherwise, this was another redoubtable showing. 8/10.

3. Willem Nel: You can't miss him when he's doing his impersonation of a bull crashing through a brick wall and he left plenty of imprints on the Japanese forwards. 8/10.

4. Grant Gilchrist: He flung himself into the fray when Japan were at their most dangerous and shone brightly, both at the set piece and in open play. A class act, who is ever improving. 8/10.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

5. Jonny Gray: He's such a resplendent figure in full flow that it's almost disappointing when the younger Gray brother doesn't orchestrate mayhem. But he was kept on a pretty tight lead in this contest. 7/10.

6. Ryan Wilson: There were times during the initial exchanges when the flanker seemed to be struggling with the pace of the Japanese. But he was soon up to speed and proving a typically abrasive combatant at the breakdown. 7/10

7. John Hardie: Some people have queried his selection, and he is inexperienced at this level. But he secured his try with masterly aplomb and looked like an inspired selection from Cotter. Popped up all over the park. 9/10.

8. Dave Denton: He doesn't always get credit for burrowing into opposing sides and gradually, inexorably sapping the resolve out of them. But Denton was relentless in his tackling when it really mattered. 8/10.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

9. Greig Laidlaw (Captain): If only everything in life was as reliable as this fellow. He steered his men through a potential minefield, nailing several penalties to keep the Scots on the front foot and was quick enough to seize the ball when a Japanese penalty cracked back off the upright. Immaculate. 9/10.

10. Finn Russell: When he purrs into action, it's like watching a pussycat morph into a puma. In the first half, he had to be defensive-minded, but he never stays in that gear for too long and was perpetual motion in the second period, epitomised by the fashion of his excellent try. 9/10.

11. Sean Lamont: He's nearing his century of caps, but there's no sign of letting up with the big, visceral winger, who once again put in a massive shift for his country. 7/10.

12. Matt Scott: If it wasn't for his name, you might suppose he was a French back from the 1980s, all twinkletoes and champagne magic. But he can make big hits too, as Japan will testify and his partnership with Bennett was superb. 9/10.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

13. Mark Bennett: Even the most jaded soul has to feel a sliver of joie de vivre at this man's development into a genuine star. He scored two tries, marshalled his backs, tackled for keeps and looked cool as Antartica at the end. 9.5/10.

14. Tommy Seymour: Give him an inch and he'll run a mile. Gift him a chance and he'll make you pay, as Japan discovered with his decisive interception score. Would have bagged a second if it wasn't for some heroic tackling. 8/10.

15. Stuart Hogg: In a precocious back division, the Hawick maestro always does something special. True, he fluffed an up-and-under in the first half, but he shrugged that off with insouciance and made several telling angular runs at his opponents. 8/10.

REPLACEMENTS: Richie Gray almost suffered embarrassment when he misjudged the bounce of the ball on his arrival for Gilchrist, but that aside, the likes of Josh Strauss and Fraser Brown did themselves no harm, although the match was effectively over by the stage they reached the pitch. 7/10.

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