Ally Dickinson insists Scotland have unfinished business with the Springboks when they visit Murrayfield on Sunday for the second match of the viagogo Autumn Test series.
Fresh from coming off the bench early to help the Scots comfortably defeat Japan 42-17 the Edinburgh prop, who claimed one of the hosts’ six tries, turned his attention to a meeting with the world’s No. 2 side. While making it clear he had no beef in particular with the South Africans, Dickinson admitted the manner of a defeat against them in Nelspruit last summer – when Scotland had a player controversially sin-binned and he gained one of his 28 caps – still rankled.
“There is a bit of unfinished business from Nelspruit. That game frustrated us hugely and this will definitely be a chance to right that result,” said Dickinson, adding: “They’ll know it as well. It’ll be a battle.
The Scots will go into action against opponents who on Saturday defeated Wales 24-15 on the back of topping 40 points at Murrayfield for only the fourth time since Autumn Tests were formally introduced over a decade ago.
It was not a flawless display and, as predicted, the team took a half to get into their stride.
But three features stood out: the quality of the off-loading from the tackle; ruthlessness in scoring three tries when Japan were reduced to 14 men on two occasions by yellow cards; an ability to go straight back to the other end and counter an opposition score.
The offloading was seen to perfection in the build up to Dickinson’s try when he sprinted clear under the posts for the conversion to settle any lingering doubts at 30-17 as daylight began to appear between the sides.
Even more heartening is the fact Dickinson believes that the ability to take this high tempo approach stems directly from successful changes in the scrum laws allowing more free flowing play.
“The new scrum laws negate the hit a bit and there is a little bit less movement before the ball come in.
“The ref wants things to be set and it does make the game a bit more free flowing which suits the Scotland style.
“Everyone I have spoken with about these new laws is positive. You can still scrum and there is even an element of going back to old school and hooking the ball.”
Creating more of a contest does mean teams can get wrong-footed and Scotland paid the penalty when they lost a heel for one of the two Japanese tries both scored by winger Kenki Fukuoka.
“Obviously not all our scrums were the best but again it will be back to the drawing board to sort out concentration or whatever. Coming right back whenever we lost points was a sign of our frustration at giving away soft tries.
“We just had to get down there and score points because they were in touching distance every time they got their tries.
“When Japan lost two players (No. 8 Koliniasi and full back Goromaru) inside the last quarter we had to be as ruthless as we could and try to capitalise by taking every advantage.
Dickinson’s try – his second in Tests – came just after Koliniasi departed.
He recalled: “I can’t take too much credit because most of the work was done by other boys and I just had to run under the sticks.
“It was a great feeling to see the line coming up but you know somebody is going to be chasing and you just want to get the ball down.”
Dickinson’s score was part of a 31-point second half spree and he noted: “The second half provided a pretty good springboard looking ahead especially if you accept how much Japan have improved in the past ten years. The difference in them (from when Scotland scored 100 points in the 2004 fixture at Perth) is unbelievable.”
Dickinson must now wait to learn whether he will be required to start against the ’Boks given that the man he replaced, Ryan Grant, will undergo protocols to determine the extent of a head knock,
And one change will definitely take place due to the Sunday fixture conflicting with prop Euan Murray’s religious convictions.
Geoff Cross will surely get the nod to replace Murray and coach Scott Johnson will possibly look at the back row blend where the specialist open-side that is John Barclay staked a strong claim.
It is highly likely, too, that a place will be found for Richie Gray at second row otherwise Johnson will be disinclined to tinker.
There are injury worries in the back line, though, with the outstanding Matt Scott damaging a hand in the final play and Greig Laidlaw limping conspicuously during after-match media sessions.
The Scots were never behind and imposed themselves physically from the start.
Dave Denton laid the foundation for two penalties by Greig Laidlaw before Tommy Seymour notched an unconverted try on his home debut after good work by Al Strokosch and in-form Ruaridh Jackson.
A weaving De Luca run came to nothing when Sean Lamont was denied a try by obstruction in the build up and after turning round 11-3 the Scots were rocked by a brilliant Toshiaki run to set up Fukouka.
Laidlaw’s third international try and conversion brought up his 200 points before Fukuouka struck again.
Once more the Scots found an extra gear, Jackson’s cut out pass off the left hand putting in Seymour,
Down the home straight there was only one winner with Dickinson, fellow sub Duncan Weir and finally Lamont doubling the overall try tally to create a feeling of job well done even if much stiffer tasks loom large.
Scotland: Tries: Seymour (2), Dickinson, Laidlaw, Weir, Lamont. Conversions: Laidlaw (2), Weir. Penalties: Laidlaw (2)
Japan: Tries: Fukuoka (2). Conversions: Goromaru (2). Penalty: Goromaru.
Scotland: Maitland, Seymour, De Luca, Scott, Lamont, Jackson, Laidlaw, Grant, Ford, Murray, Swinson, Kellock, Strokosch, Denton, Brown. Subs: MacArthur for Ford, (70 mins), Dickinson for Grant, (28), Cross for Murray (73), R Gray for Kellock (57), Barclay for Strokosch (70), Pyrgos for Laidlaw (73), Weir for Jackson (65), Taylor for Maitland (75).
Japan: Goromaru, Hirose (captain), Sau, Wing, Fukuoka, K Ono, Tanaka, Mikami, Horie, Hatakeyama, Thompson, Makabe, Tui, Koliniasi, Broadhurst. Subs: Aoki for Horie, (70), Yamashita for Hatakeyama (33), H Ono for Makabe (65), Kikutani for Holani (70), Hiwasa for Tanaka ( 60), Tamura for Hiwasa (71). Not used: Nagae, Fujita.
Referee: J P Doyle (England)