The USA and Japan met at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji on August 10 with the Brave Bloomoms gaining a 34-20 win for the 2019 Pacific Nations Cup Championship.
Japan had the first sustained attack. After nine phases the U.S. were penalized. The Brave Blossoms used that to attack from a 5-meter line and Michael Leitch mauled his way in-goal for a try. Yu Tamura then converted for an early 7-0 lead.
Japan then extended the lead to 10-0 after a U.S. penalty for coming in from the side at the breakdown after a kick by Tamura.
Japan used quick hands as Matushima offloaded to Fukuoka for a try under the posts. Tamura then slotted the conversion to lead 17-0.
The USA answered back with the team pushing forward and AJ MacGinty offloaded inside to Madison Hughes fro a try. Will Hooley then slotted the conversion to cut the lead to 17-7.
After some back and forth by both sides, a Japan penalty led to a Will Hooley penalty kick to slice the lead to 17-10.
Just prior to the break, a USA penalty allowed Japan’s Tamura to extend the lead to 20-10. Japan then returned the favor and Hooley slotted the penalty goal to cut the lead to 20-13 at halftime.
The Brave Blossoms struck first after 11 phases with a Ryohei Yamanaka try and a conversion by Tamura to push the lead to 27-13.
After stellar defense by the USA, Japan struck quickly linking forwards and backs with Michael Leitch finishing with a try, which was then converted to lead 34-13.
The Brave Blossoms attacked to extend their lead from a 5-meter lineout, but an obstruction gave the USA a scrum and allowed the team to clear.
Following a Japan scrum, Pinkelman gathered a loose ball and Hanco Germishuys finished with a try to cut the lead to 34-20 after Hooley’s conversion.
With a minute remaining in the match, the USA had a scrum 5-meters from in-goal. Several phases and a couple of scrums later, Japan withstood the Eagles attack for the win and the championship.
The USA had the majority of possession and territory in the match, but quick strikes by Japan and line speed led to the Brave Bloomoms win. The USA also had excelelnt defensive line speed and their physical play kept the match close.
USA & Japan 2019 Pacific Nations Cup Squads & Match Preview
USA: 1. Chance Wenglewski (Rugby ATL, 5) 2. Mikey Sosene-Feagai (Auckland, 4) 3. Paul Mullen (Houston SaberCats, 12) 4. Nate Brakeley (Rugby United NY, 19) 5. Gregory Peterson (Newcastle Falcons, ENG, 24) 6. Malon Al- Jiboori (Glendale Raptors, 3) 7. Hanco Germishuys (Glendale Raptors, 15) 8. Jamason Fa’anana Shultz (Houston SaberCats, 1) 9. Shaun Davies (Glendale Raptors, 23) 10. AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks, ENG, 23) 11. Madison Hughes (USA Sevens, 4) 12. Paul Lasike (Harlequins, ENG, 14)13. Marcel Brache (Western Force, AUS, 17) 14. Blaine Scully (C) (Unattached, 48) 15. Will Hooley (Bedford Blues, ENG, 10) 16. Dylan Fawsitt (Rugby United New York, 10) 17. David Ainu’u (Toulouse Rugby, FRA, 7) 18. Paddy Ryan (Rugby United New York, 6) 19. Ben Landry (Ealing Trailfinders, 20) 20. Ben Pinkelman (USA Sevens, 1) 21. Nate Augspurger (San Diego Legion, 22) 22. Will Magie (USA Sevens, 23) 23. Thretton Palamo (Houston SaberCats, 17)
Japan: 1 Keita Inagaki (Panasonic Wild Knights) 2 Shota Horie (Panasonic Wild Knights / Sunwolves) 3 Asaeli Valu (Panasonic Wild Knights / Sunwolves) 4 James Moore (Sanix Blues / Sunwolves) 5 Uwe Helu (Yamaha Jubilo / Sunwolves) 6 Michael Leitch (C) (Toshiba Brave Lupus) 7 Lappies Labuschagne (Kubota Spears) 8 Hendrik Tui (Suntory Sungoliath / Sunwolves) 9 Fumiaki Tanaka (Canon Eagles / Sunwolves) 10 Yu Tamura (Canon Eagles / Sunwolves) 11 Kenki Fukuoka (Panasonic Wild Knights) 12 Timothy Lafaele (Kobelco Steelers) 13 Will Tupou (Coca-Cola Red Sparks) 14 Kotaro Matsushima (Suntory Sungoliath) 15 Ryohei Yamanaka (Kobelco Steelers / Sunwolves) 16 Atsushi Sakate (Panasonic Wild Knights / Sunwolves) 17 Koki Yamamoto (Yamaha Jubilo) 18 Yusuke Kizu (Toyota Verblitz) 19 Wimpie van der Walt (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) 20 Kazuki Himeno (Toyota Verblitz) 21 Yutaka Nagare (Suntory Sungoliath) 22 Rikiya Matsuda (Panasonic Wild Knights / Sunwolves) 23 Lomano Lemeki (Honda Heat)
USA MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM XVs STAFF
General Manager Dave Hodges
Head Coach Gary Gold
Assistant Coach, Attack Greg McWilliams
Assistant Coach, Set Piece Shawn Pittman
Assistant Coach, Defense Jaque Fourie
Strength & Conditioning Coach Huw Bevan
Performance Analyst Jimmy Harrison
Assistant S&C and Analyst Tom Kindley
Team Doctor Mark Sakr
Team Doctor Sam Akhavan
Head Athletic Trainer Kevin Ng
Athletic Trainer Kristen Douhan
Massage Therapist Daliah Hurwitz
Team Manager Chris Hanson
Assistant Team Manager Mark Drown