Asian champions Japan scored seven tries to fend off a late challenge from South Korea for a 39-17 win in the opener of the inaugural Asian Five Nations rugby tournament yesterday.
Japan dominated the first half 29-0, but team coach John Kirwan was not satisfied with his team’s performance, saying his players had failed to keep their discipline in the second half.
“I was disappointed that they couldn’t show what they have done in the past 10 days. Our team’s performance was not so good overall,” Kirwan said.
Try-scorer James Arlidge, who missed the World Cup because of an injury, converted two of his seven conversion attempts.
Substitute Tatsuya Kusumi added two more tries in the second half, but that completed the scoring for the visitors.
Right flanker You Young-nam started the South Korean comeback with a try in the 52nd minute, with substitute stand-off Hong Jun-ki converting the following goal to trail 7-34.
Hong added a penalty in the 67th minute for 10-39 and then converted right center Kim Sung-soo’s 84th-minute try in injury time — but the game was already lost.
Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and the Arabian Gulf are taking part in the competition, with Asian champions Japan playing the Arabian selection next Saturday in Osaka.