Japan’s Rally Too Late To Beat Fiji

Japan’s rally too late to beat FijiLevani Botia scored two tries as Fiji beat Japan 38-25 to end its European tour with a win and kept their Asian rival out of the world top 10.
Fiji coach John McKee said the Pacific nation’s Olympic sevens title had given them new confidence in their ability as they head toward the 2019 World Cup campaign.

McKee said he was “very happy” with the domineering display against a Japanese side who could have taken 10th place in the world from Fiji had it won in the western French town of Vannes.

But Albert Vulivuli scored the first of Fiji’s five tries after 15 minutes and they were never under threat even though Peceli Yato was sent off in the first half for a dangerous tackle.

Fiji, who also had tries from Metuisela Talebula and Nemani Nadolo, took a 21-6 lead by half time.

Despite seeing his side lose 58-15 to England in their earlier game, McKee said 2016 has been a turning point for Fijian rugby because of their triumph at the Rio Olympics.

“It gives our players a new confidence, a belief that they can take on the best in the world and show their class. That Olympic campaign was excellent,” said the New Zealander.

Two second-half Kotato Matsushima tries gave some respectability to Japan’s score, but coach Jamie Joseph was not happy.

“We were very flat in the first half and gave Fiji the first couple of tries by our mistakes so that was disappointing,” he said.

“I felt that whilst players’ attitudes were really good, the Fiji attitude was better. What that looked like to me was that they positioned quicker, they wanted the ball more, they were hungrier for those 50-50 opportunities.”

“In the second half every time we tried to get our game going, we made a mistake or gave a penalty away. But we showed a bit of character.”

Joseph said he would go “back to the drawing board” as he pursues his mission to create a team that can compete when the World Cup arrives in Japan in 2019.

“We lost the game today but we have to learn the lesson of how we can be better,” he added.

“We have come a long way in four weeks. Half the team are new and never played for Japan.”

“It was a hard start with one week’s preparation, we played Argentina [and were beaten 54-20], got a win against Georgia, could have won against Wales and we were clearly beaten today.”

Despite the results Joseph said it had been a “great tour” that had “unearthed some new talent.”

“Unfortunately we have got to wait six months before we can play again.”

Joseph said that when Japan are well prepared they can compete in the way they did against Wales when they lost just 33-30.

“I learned that we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding what it takes to prepare well week in and week out and get that same level of performance consistently.

“In Japan, players are not used to this level of intensity and we need to potentially use a few more players.”