Japan defeated Scotland 28-21 in the final pool match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup on Sunday, 13 October at International Stadium Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama City. The Brave Blossoms held a 21-7 lead at the break.
Japan won Pool A and will face South Africa in the quarterfinals, the first time the Brave Blossoms have advanced.
Japan topped the Pool A standings with 19 points, with Ireland in second with 16. Scotland had 11 points, Samoa 5, and Russia zero.
The Rugby World Cup quarterfinals will have England facing Australia, New Zealand meeting Ireland, Wales facing France, and host Japan meeting South Africa.
Scotland placed Yu Tamura under pressure as he gathered a Scotland kick ahead 5-meter in defense. A Magmus Bradbury poach then led to a Finn Russell try with Greig Laidlaw slotting the extras for the a7-0 lead.
Japan attacked deep inside Scotland territory going through phases with quick ball. Another turnover was created as Ryoto Nkamura did not release and Scotland cleared.
Japan had a chance to get on the board in the 16th minute, but Yu Tamura’s penalty goal attempt was to the right of the posts.
Japan attacked wide left with Kenki Fukuoka popping a pass as he was tackled to Kotaro Matsushima for a try with Tamura converting to level the match at 7 all.
Japan extended its lead after multiple offloads with loosehead prop Keita Inagaki taking the final offload for a try under the posts. Tamura had an easy conversion to take the Brave Blossoms first lead, 14-7.
Japan continued to attack left and after multiple phases crossed inside Scotland’s 22-meters, however, the ball was lost forward.
Tamura had another penalty goal attempt, but the ball faded near the posts with Scotland having a 22-meter drop. Japan used this to grub the ball ahead with Kenki Fukuoka finishing with a try. Tamura slotted the extras for a 21-7 lead at the break.
The opening restart went to Scotland and after multiple phases, a strip by Kenki Fukuoka had him racing for a try under the posts for a team bonus point with Tamura slotting to extend the lead to 28-7.
Scotland answered back with a try by Willem Nel from close range with Laidlaw slotting the extras to cut the lead to 28-14.
Scotland used a Japan penalty to attack from a lineout side Japan’s 22-meters, however, an inaccurate cross-kick by Laidlaw had Matshushima calling a mark and clearing. Scotland countered with Zander Fagerson crashing over and Laidlaw adding the extras to cut the lead to 28-21.
Japan went through 21 phases with Scotland repelling the attack creating a penalty at the breakdown. That was a key moment as a try by Japan would have made it difficult for Scotland to come back.
Scotland won a kicking dual to attack from a lineout inside midfield. Scotland did not take advantage as a Pete Horne offload went forward and resulted in a Japan scrum.
Japan advanced the ball deep inside Scotland territory, but a Scotland poach at the breakdown led to a Scotland attack. An ill-advised chip ahead by Chris Harris gave the ball back to Japan. That was brief with Scotland on the attack again.
Japan created a huge turnover after a Harris run. Twelve minutes remain in the contest.
Scotland charged again with two runs by Ryan Wilson, but a turnover led to a Brave Blossoms counterattack. Scotland created a turnover at the breakdown and countered again. Both teams are leaving it all on the pitch.
Scotland pressed within Japan’s 22-meters with Russell pass lost to Japan. After the clearance, Scotland went through seven phases before a knock-on gave Japan a scrum. Scotland needs a try and to be 8 points clear of Japan to advance with only six minutes remaining.
Despite a strong defense by Japan, Scotland created a scrum penalty and the pressure continues with an attack inside Japan’s 22-meters. A grub kick was knocked on by Matsushima resulting in a 5-meter scrum.
Several Scotland runs later, the ball was turned over to Japan with the Brave Blossoms closing out a 28-21 win.
Player of the Match honors went to Kenki Fukuoka with the host nation celebrating moving into the quarterfinals for the first time.
Japan will meet South Africa on Sunday 20 October.
Squads & Match Preview
Japan: 1. Keita Inagaki 2. Shota Horie 3. Jiwon Koo 4. Luke Thompson 5. James Moore 6. Michael Leitch (capt.) 7. Pieter Labuschagne 8. Kazuki Himeno 9. Yutaka Nagare 10. Yu Tamura 11. Kenki Fukuoka 12. Ryoto Nakamura 13. Timothy Lafaele 14. Kotaro Matsushima 15. William Tupou 16. Atsushi Sakate 17. Isileli Nakajima 18. Asaeli Ai Valu 19. Uwe Helu 20. Hendrik Tui 21. Fumiaki Tanaka 22. Rikiya Matsuda 23. Ryohei Yamanaka
Scotland: 1. Allan Dell 2. Fraser Brown 3. Willem Nel 4. Grant Gilchrist 5. Jonny Gray 6. Magnus Bradbury 7. Jamie Ritchie 8. Blade Thomson 9. Greig Laidlaw (capt.) 10. Finn Russell 11. Darcy Graham 12. Sam Johnson 13. Chris Harris 14. Tommy Seymour 15. Stuart Hogg 16. Stuart McInally 17. Gordon Reid 18. Zander Fagerson 19. Scott Cummings 20. Ryan Wilson 21.George Horne 22. Pete Horne 23. Blair Kinghorn