Scotland captain Stuart Hogg expressed his delight after becoming his country’s highest try-scorer in a 29-20 victory over Japan.
The 29-year-old Exeter full-back had his fist in the air celebrating before he had even touched the ball down for his record-breaking 25th try for the national team as he ran on to Finn Russell’s pass and burst over the line.
The try took him clear of Iain Smith and Tony Stanger, the two players he had drawn level with on 24 after his double against South Africa last weekend.
Hogg, reluctant to make too much of his own exploits, said: “I loved it, I loved it. But then I was told by Ali Price and Hamish Watson to put the ball down before celebrating. I think you can see by my reaction how much it meant to me. The main thing, though, is we got a good win.”
The victory was sealed by a 79th-minute penalty from Finn Russell which took the Scots an unassailable nine points clear of the Brave Blossoms, but only after the Racing 92 player had pondered kicking for the corner. Russell eventually went for the posts after being instructed to by Hogg.
Hogg laughed it off afterwards, saying: “Finn told me after the game he was only winding me up! There was three of us against him so I’d like to think he was going to listen to us.
“It was never in doubt that we would be going for the posts but he just thought he’d try and waste a bit of time by winding me up, and wind me up he did!”
Hogg was pleased with the way Scotland played as they rounded off their autumn series with a third win from four Tests.
He said: “The performance wasn’t far from where we need to be. At times we were spot on. The first period defensively we were absolutely outstanding. There were little bits we lit slip.
“We’ve managed to win three out of four Test matches in the autumn and the exciting thing for me is that we’re not quite satisfied with everything that happened. It was our last opportunity together for a couple of months so we wanted to put in a performance we were proud of, and at times we were very clinical and we were good defensively.
“We’re yet to find that complete 80-minute performance but I think part of that was because we were put under a lot of pressure by Japan who managed to hold on to the ball for large periods of the game.”
Head coach Gregor Townsend paid tribute to the record-breaking Hogg.
He said: “What a brilliant moment for him. He didn’t have to wait long after equalling it last week. I read a nice article in the programme from Tony Stanger who shared that record that had lasted almost 100 years so it’s brilliant that our captain was able to break that today.”
Reflecting on the match, Townsend was pleased with the way his side dealt with a Japan team who had defeated them at the World Cup a little over two years ago.
He said: “It was a real Test match. Japan showed the level of play we saw from them in 2019. They are an ambitious and accurate team and they’re the only team I can think of in world rugby who keep the ball in their own half and go through the phases.
“I’ve got to commend our defensive effort. We had to come through adversity too, with penalties against us and the yellow card (for Jamie Bhatti). I felt our contact work in attack was the best it’s been in the whole campaign and that was something we were focused on improving, so that was pleasing.”
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