Japan Slays Another Giant in Beating Ireland

Japan has taken down another giant in consecutive Rugby World Cups as they defeated Ireland 19-12 in a Pool A match at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka Prefecture on September 28. Ireland held a 12-9 lead at the break.

With the win, Japan tops the Pool with Samoa facing Scotland on Monday to complete the second round in the Pool. Next for the teams, has Ireland facing Russia on 3 October, while Japan takes on Samoa on 5 October.

In their opening matches, the Brave Blossoms defeated Russia 30-10, while Ireland beat Scotland 27-3.

Match Recap

Japan had a sustained attack with a grub kick covered by Ireland in-goal. They then counterattacked with Ireland penalized at the breakdown. Yu Tamura’s attempted penalty goal was wide left.

After a Japan penalty, Ireland executed a cross-kick with Keith Earls charging down the ball. Ireland then attacked from a lineout 5-meters from in-goal, but Japan recovered the loose ball and cleared.

Ireland counterattacked, however, a Tadhg Furlong knock-on allowed Japan to clear again. Ireland went through phases with Jack Carty executing a cross-kick to Garry Ringrose for a try to take a 5-0 lead. Carty’s conversion was wide.

An Irish penalty led to a Yu Tamura penalty goal to cut the lead to 5-3.

Following another penalty by Japan, Ireland kicked for territory and has a sustained attack with Rob Kearney grounding for a try. Carty added the extras to push the lead to 12-3.

Ireland attacked from the ensuing restart with a break by Kearney, but a handling error resulted in a Brave Blossoms scrum. A kick ahead of a loose ball by Ireland place Japan under pressure, but an Irish penalty allowed Japan to escape danger.

Japan attacked from a lineout and a Yutaka Nagare chip was retrieved by Ireland just prior to in-goal.

An Ireland lineout at midfield was long with the Brave Blossoms gathering and attacking deep inside Irish territory. Another penalty at the breakdown led to another Tamura penalty goal to cut the lead to 12-6.

Japan used a penalty after an Ireland scrum to kick for territory. Another Irish penalty was punished by Tamura to cut the lead to 12-9.

The ensuing restart was driven into in-goal and was brought back to midfield for a Japan scrum after the hooter. Japan went through 16 phases before a grub kick by hooker Shota Horie bounced into touch about 10-meters from in-goal. With that, the first half ended with a narrow Ireland lead.

During the half, Japan controlled 60% of the territory.

Second Half

The teams sparred with attacks early in the half with Ireland attacking deep inside Japan territory. The effort was thwarted, when Ireland lost a lineout which resulted in Japan clearing.

A Nagare box kick went off an Irish defender and Ireland was penalized at the breakdown. The long attempted penalty goal by Tamura was wide left.

Japan kept up the pressure with a sustained attack before losing the ball forward inside Ireland’s 22-meters. After the scrum, an obstruction by Ireland gave Japan a scrum 10-meters from in-goal. Japan used quick hands for a Kenki Fukuoka try to take the lead with Tamura adding the extras, 16-12.

Ireland countered with an attack to within meters from in-goal. Japan’s defense held, as Ireland was penalized at a breakdown, which allowed them to clear to midfield.

After a steal from a Japan maul, Ireland had a sustained attack before losing the ball forward for a Japan scrum. The Brave Blossoms advanced the ball inside Irish territory before Conor Murray was penalized for being offsides. Tamura added another penalty goal to extend Japan’s lead to 19-12.

An intercept by Kenki Fukuoka had him racing to within meters from in-goal, with Keith Earls tracking back to save the try. Japan had an attacking 5-meter scrum in front of the posts with two minutes remaining in the match. The Brave Blossoms lost the ball forward, but Joey Carbery cleared the ball into touch to end the match.

Japan’s win against Ireland has cemented the giant-slayer status for the Brave Blossoms. They stunned South Africa in their opening match of the 2015 RWC and now have beaten second-ranked Ireland, who came into the 2019 RWC as the first-ranked team.

Japan top Pool B with 9 points, with Ireland into second with 6, after gaining a losing bonus point. Samoa still can still regain the standings lead should they gain a bonus-point win over Scotland. The latter will be favored as they seek to recover from their opening loss to Ireland.

Japan also will be ranked 8th in the world, their highest ranking ever, while Ireland drops to 4th.

Japan’s hooker Shota Horie was awarded the Player of the Match.

One concern for Japan is the injury to No. 8 Amanaki Mafi, who left the pitch in the 30th minute with an apparent rib injury.


Japan: 1. Keita Inagaki 2. Shota Horie 3. Jiwon Koo 4. Luke Thompson 5. James Moore 6. Kazuki Himeno 7. Pieter Labuschagne (capt.) 8. Amanaki Lelei Mafi 9. Yutaka Nagare 10. Yu Tamura 11. Lomano Lemeki 12. Ryoto Nakamura 13. Timothy Lafaele 14. Kotaro Matsushima 15. Ryohei Yamanaka 16. Atsushi Sakate 17. Isileli Nakajima 18. Asaeli Ai Valu 19. Wimpie van der Walt 20. Michael Leitch 21. Fumiaki Tanaka 22. Rikiya Matsuda 23. Kenki Fukuoka

Ireland: 1. Cian Healy 2. Rory Best (capt.) 3. Tadhg Furlong 4. Iain Henderson 5. James Ryan 6. Peter O’Mahony 7. Josh Van der Flier 8. CJ Stander 9. Conor Murray 10. Jack Carty 11. Jacob Stockdale 12. Chris Farrell 13. Garry Ringrose 14. Keith Earls 15. Rob Kearney 16. Sean Cronin 17. David Kilcoyne 18. Andrew Porter 19. Tadgh Beirne 20. Rhys Ruddock 21. Luke McGrath 22. Joey Carbery 23. Jordan Larmour

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