Players bow to the crowd after Japan beat Samoa 38-19 on their Rugby World Cup game in Toyota City on Saturday night. Photo: REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
rugby world cup 2019

Japan on brink of first World Cup quarterfinal after beating Samoa 38-19

By Nick Said

Kotaro Matsushima scored a bonus-point try deep into injury time as Japan moved to the brink of their first Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with a 38-19 Pool A victory over Samoa at the City of Toyota Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts, who turned the tournament upside down when they beat Ireland last week, moved to the top of the pool with 14 points and also secured their third victory in the pool phase for the second successive World Cup.

The loss ended the Pacific islanders' chances of their first place in the knockout phase since 1995, although the grouping is not likely to be decided until Japan play Scotland in Yokohama in the last game of the pool phase on Oct 13.

Number eight Kazuki Himeno, center Timothy Lafaele and winger Kenki Fukuoka also scored tries for Japan, while flyhalf Yu Tamura added 18 points with the boot in front of a passionate crowd of just under 40,000.

Ireland are second in the pool with 11 points while the Scots, with a game in hand, have five.

"It was definitely hard work out there," Japan captain Pieter Labuschagne told reporters. "It took us a long time. They are a good quality side and they showed it, especially in the first half.

"Luckily for us, we got through in the last minute for the bonus point so we are delighted about the result. We know that Scotland will be a really important game, so we will go back to our preparations and get it done."

The opening half was littered with errors as both sides battled to assert themselves, though Japan created the greater scoring opportunities but struggled at the breakdown as Samoa won six turnovers.

The home side took a 6-0 lead through two penalties from Tamura, but a couple of indiscretions at the ruck allowed Samoa to level the score through center Henry Taefu.

The home side came into the contest intent on a kicking game but that at times meant giving up quality possession, so they switched tactics in the second half with great effect.

Samoa’s disciplinary issues continued when flanker TJ Ioane was sent to the sin-bin for a no-arms tackle, their fifth yellow card of the tournament, and while he was off the field Japan scored their opening try.

Matsushima made an incisive break towards the Samoan line and, after he was brought down five meters short, the ball was fed out to Samoan-born Lafaele to cross over for a 16-9 halftime advantage.

Samoa lost experienced fullback Tim Nanai-Williams just before the break with a head injury, hampering them in both attack and defense.

The teams traded penalties at the start of the second period before Japan scored a second try on 56 minutes to open up some daylight on the scoreboard.

They got a massive shove going in the maul from an attacking lineout and Himeno collapsed over the line.

Samoa, though, showed admirable fighting spirit and, after dominating possession and winning a succession of penalties inside the Japan 22, Taefu crossed to bring them back into the contest.

But Japan, roared on by their home support, drove the ball back towards the Samoan line from the kick-off and Fukuoka crossed in the corner, before the lively Matsushima secured the bonus-point with the final play of the game.

"We will take the lessons from this," Samoa captain Jack Lam said. "We've still got one game to go (against Ireland).

"Japan have set the tone in our pool. We threw our best punch but couldn't come up with a winner there."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

The Miracle of Toyota City! Brilliant play yeat again by Brave Blossoms! Attacking rugby, dominating the hapless Samoans in the forwards and outpacing them out wide. Men against boys. South Africa will be feeling the fear now! Why cant Brave Blossoms dream of getting to the Final now? Impossible is nothing.

Go Go, Brave Blossoms!!

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

A real pleasure to watch

Thank you


6 ( +6 / -0 )

I’m glad they won and got the bonus point. That was a must. Still without a bonus point at a minimum against Scotland next weekend we could be heading for the same situation as 2015. The performance tonight wasn’t the same standard as their performance against Ireland. They do need to step up against Scotland.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They do need to step up against Scotland.

"Step up"? Its only Scotland! LOL

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

"Step up"? Its only Scotland! LOL

if Japan goes into that game with the same attitude then they’ve already lost.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I only liked baseball until seeing our great rugby team

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Don't get excited in advance, remember Football last world cup.

Baseball still the favourite sport in Japan unless they win the trophy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They do need to step up against Scotland.

"Step up"? Its only Scotland! LOL

Come on, cobber. It’s a tough game coming up. You Aussies felt the power of mighty Wales...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Once again Japans defense did a very good job against the Samoans this time...….next Scotland...…

THAT will be an interesting match, given that after Japan beat S Africa last cup & then turned up a bit flat against Scotland...……… time for some revenge perhaps....

Cant wait till the 13th!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

You Aussies felt the power of mighty Wales...

comon Australia has been struggling for years, Wales real test is when they play South Africa or the All Blacks will see if their power is up to task

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Still without a bonus point at a minimum against Scotland next weekend we could be heading for the same situation as 2015. 

I don't think they need a bonus point. It is Scotland that needs bonus points.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

fantastic and very exciting match ! Many thanks to the Japanese team to provide such a show to the fans !

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't think they need a bonus point. It is Scotland that needs bonus points.

Scotland has two games left, Russia and Japan. A bonus point win against Russia is likely, and a win against Japan is not unlikely. They get both and they’ll be on 14 points, equal with Japan. They get a bonus point win against Japan they’ll be 1 point ahead. Japan is not safely through and they need to win to go through or If Scotland gets a bonus point win then Japan could go through with 2 bonus points (loss by less than 7 and scoring four tries) but that’s a high scoring game. Best scenario is a win of course.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Here's what Scotland need to do; Boot the ball up the pitch, get their forwards in play. If they let let Japan fling the egg around or try to do it themselves they'll be in trouble.

comon Australia has been struggling for years

They thumped NZ a couple of months ago (although they got thumped back a week later). Never write off Skippy.

Japan may beat Scotland, but don't forget they are still quite an average team. Massive game though, ganbare brave thistles etc.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well done Japan !!!..

Great game and the bonus try in the last minutes was awesome !!..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Congratulations Japan ! Superb goal kicks courtesy of Tamura, a spectacular jackal by Himeno, and a fantastic try by Matsushima, earning Japan a must needed bonus point. Hope they make it to the quarterfinals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pretty sure they don't do injury time but complete the last play time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Makes me hope Japan crash out just to take that smug look off his face.

Sad huh? Still I really want Japan to make it through to the last eight this time. The Japanese team has nothing of the arrogance that he is showing. Pride not arrogance is what people love about the game.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites