Published: Mon, October 07, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Japan enter new territory as Joseph targets top spot in Pool A

Japan enter new territory as Joseph targets top spot in Pool A

Hosts Japan conjured the samurai spirit to smash Samoa 38-19 on Saturday and take a giant step towards a historic quarter-final spot at the Rugby World Cup.

Having negotiated an intense schedule in Japan, which has included a five-day turnaround between the Japan and Russian Federation matches, the Ulster hooker believes it's important to use the time before the Samoa game on 12 October to regroup.

Japan stayed on the front foot and clinched the bonus point at the death when Matsushima got the try his performance deserved. That's what actually happened, and I'm glad I was able to get the ball over the line and score the try.

It only took two minutes for the Brave Blossoms to capitalise on their one-man advantage as Samoa-born centre Tim Lafaele crossed for the opening try of the game.

The noise when poster boy Matsushima darted in for Japan's bonus-point try in added time - his fourth of the tournament and 10th in his last nine Tests - was ear-splitting. "I'm gutted for the players".

"We were a bit frantic in the first half, we didn't execute exactly how we wanted to, but after halftime I thought we were more in control".

It took until Russian Federation received its first yellow card for Ireland to score its third try, just before halftime, and then not until Russia's second yellow card for Ireland to earn the fourth bonus-point try.

Of those 96 million engagements, it may come as no surprise that Japan's 19-12 victory over Ireland on 28th September accrued seven times as many users and screen views as the tournament's overall average match engagement. Japan went close, but Samoa won a defensive scrum. "After the results from last week, we knew they had to win, but we were up for the challenge and it was a tough one".

Victory for a fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup match would put Japan on top of Pool A and firmly in control, albeit with a hard final match against Scotland still to come.

Higuain sends Juventus top as Inter suffer first Serie A defeat
Vecino almost put Inter ahead towards the final 20 minutes when his shot deflected against the post with help from De Ligt. Sarri sent on Higuain and Rodrigo Bentancur as Juve chased a victor in the second half and the changes worked wonders.

"I think it was always going to come down to the final game", Joseph said.

Coach Jamie Joseph said the team now has an "awesome opportunity" to do something that's never been done before.

Samoa had closed the gap to just four points before Himeno powered in for Japan's second try and the number eight showed his importance at the other end too. "We threw our best punch but couldn't come up with a victor there".

"We can't afford to play 40 minutes over the last two games with only 14 or 13 men and expect to be out there and win games", coach Steve Jackson said.

"But at times it felt like we were playing against more than 15 people".

Kotaro Matsushima is congratulated by teammates after scoring a crucial try against Samoa.

"I think you got that from Leinster last season, and you got that from the boys last night".

A Japan fan looks on during the Rugby World Cup game against Samoa.

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