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Japan makes 8 changes to face young Scotland side in RWC

Japan makes 8 changes to face Scotland side with 12 Rugby World Cup debutants

Japan makes 8 changes to face young Scotland side in RWC

BRIGHTON, England (AP) -- The Japan team that beat South Africa was freshened up with eight changes its second Pool B match against Scotland on Wednesday in the Rugby World Cup.

Japan, a 1,000-1 outsider before the tournament, won 34-32 against the Springboks on Saturday to cause the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history and instantly become an overnight sensation.

"We've had a short turnaround, which we're well used to," coach Eddie Jones said. "These guys can do it, Japanese players are enormously resilient."

Despite his heroics in scoring the game-winning try deep in injury time, utility back Karne Hesketh remains on the bench.

Justin Ives comes in for Hitosho Ono at lock; Amanaki Mafi replaces Hendrik Tui at No. 8, and Harumichi Tatekawa gets a chance to impress at flyhalf because Kosei Ono has a sore groin. New Zealand-born Male Sa'u keeps his place at outside center, and will be joined in midfield by Yu Tamura, who steps in for rugby league convert Craig Wing.

Scotland named its least experienced World Cup since beating the United States 39-15 in 2003, with 12 making their tournament debuts, and four players having 10 caps or less.

Scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw will captain a side with an average age of just under 27, Scotland's third youngest ever side at Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium.

Coach Vern Cotter made three changes from the team that lost a warm-up 19-16 to France in Paris on Sept. 5, with star fullback Stuart Hogg replacing Sean Maitland, who is among the replacements.

Veteran Sean Lamont wins his 98th cap as he comes in for Tim Visser on the left wing, with Visser dropping out of the squad. In the pack, lock Grant Gilchrist slots in for Richie Gray, who drops to the bench.

"They (Japan) will have taken a lot of confidence from their opening win over South Africa, however that doesn't change our approach to this game or the pool," Cotter said.

Matt Scott and Mark Bennett are in midfield, with Tommy Seymour on the right wing, and 11-cap Finn Russell at halfback with Laidlaw.

Gilchrist and Jonny Gray make up the second row, with Ryan Wilson, John Hardie, and No. 8 David Denton the loose forwards.

Scotland has won all four previous tests against the Japanese -- including twice in the World Cup -- with the most recent win a 42-17 success at Murrayfield two years ago.

But Jones thinks Japan's pace can hurt the Scots on the wings, with right winger Kotaro Matsushima -- who comes in for Akihito Yamada -- likely to target Lamont.

"Lamont on the wing isn't that quick, so there could be some opportunities for one-on-one's on the outside," Jones said. "The game's not going to come down to surprise tactics: It's going to come down to the basics of rugby."

Jones has changed his left winger, too, as Kenki Fukuoka replaces Kotaro Matsushima.

Japan captain Michael Leitch hopes the Gloucester crowd gets behind the players as much as Brighton's crowd did last weekend.

"We beat Georgia there two weeks ago, so there should be a good fan base," he said.



Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; David Denton, John Hardie, Ryan Wilson, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Willem Nel, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson. Reserves: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh, Richie Gray, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Sean Maitland.

Japan: Ayumu Goromaru, Kotaro Matsushima, Male Sa'u, Yu Tamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Harumichi Tatekawa; Amanaki Mafi, Michael Broadhurst, Michael Leitch, Justin Ives, Luke Thompson, Hiroshi Yamashita, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki. Reserves: Takeshi Kizu, Masataka Mikami, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Shinya Makabe, Shoji Ito, Hendrik Tui, Atsushi Hiwasa, Karne Hesketh.

Updated : 2021-09-23 15:12 GMT+08:00