Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Japan book place in the quarter-finals

SOUTH AFRICA AWAIT:Japan advanced from pool play for the first time at a World Cup and face a quarter-final against a team they know how to beat at the tournament


Keita Inagaki crosses for Japan during their Pool A match against Scotland in Yokohama, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Japan’s “Ferraris” hit top gear yesterday as the hosts beat Scotland 28-21 in a barnstorming Rugby World Cup clash to create history by reaching the quarter-finals.

Rampaging wingers Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka did the damage for Japan, who survived a late fightback in Yokohama to advance as Pool A winners along with Ireland in second.

The Brave Blossoms face two-time world champions South Africa in Tokyo on Sunday after making it a perfect four wins out of four, roared on by a crowd of 67,000.

Fukuoka, scorer of Japan’s try in their 19-12 upset over Ireland, grabbed two more in Yokohama, with Matsushima notching his fifth of the tournament.

After a war of words between the rival coaches in the build-up, the teams observed a moment’s silence for those killed in Typhoon Hagibis, which swept through Japan on Saturday, killing at least 26 people and forcing organizers to scrap three pool games.

The needle between the sides quickly resurfaced in the Pool A decider, with both teams putting in some monstrous tackles.

Scotland needed to win while preventing Japan from securing a defensive bonus point and they got off to a flying start. Early pressure told as flyhalf Finn Russell broke through to give them the lead after just seven minutes.

However, Japan hit back quickly with Matsushima latching onto a superb, one-handed offload from Fukuoka. Three more tries put them in a commanding position at 28-7, but Scotland staged a fightback through tries to W.P. Nel and Zander Fagerson.

They defended stoutly for the final 20 minutes to book a rematch with South Africa, who they beat at the World Cup in 2015.

“For my team, the whole World Cup, we’ve prepared really, really well. They’ve put their bodies on the line every weekend,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph said. “Tonight they went another level, I felt. They obviously wanted that game as much as the Scottish team did. They gave everything they possibly could.”

Samoa and Russia were the other teams in Pool A.

In Higashiosaka , Tonga enjoyed a final flourish as they beat the US 31-19 to maintain their 20-year dominance over the Eagles.

The Pacific island side fumbled a series of chances and weathered a late fightback before completing their first victory of the tournament in a tough Pool C.

Both teams were playing for pride, with England and France advancing from a tough pool, which also included Argentina.

In Kamaishi, the storm saw Canada’s Pool B match with Namibia canceled following landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium.

Namibia coach Phil Davies said that the cancelation was “logical,” as “safety is paramount.”

“I’ve never seen so much rain, and being from Wales we see a lot of rain ... it was the right decision,” he said.

New Zealand and South Africa advanced from the group, which also included Italy.

In Kumamoto, Wales defeated Uruguay 35-13 to top Pool D, booking a quarter-final against France.

Four wins from four matches gave Wales a pool sweep for the first time since 1987.

Their victory left Australia to play England in another quarter-final.

Georgia and Fiji were the other teams in Pool D.

Additional reporting by staff writer and AP

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