Rugby : Japan Closes World Cup Pool Stage With 28 - 18 Win Over The United States


Rugby : Japan closes World Cup pool stage with 28-18 win over the United StatesJapan’s 28-18 win over the United States on Sunday brought the curtains down on a Rugby World Cup pool stage that it lit up on the opening weekend.
The last pool match didn’t have the jaw-dropping thrills of Japan’s win over South Africa on the second day of the tournament, or the smothering domination of the win over Samoa, but it was a slice of history nevertheless.

Japan became the first team to win three out of four pool matches and not advance to the quarterfinals. The one loss was to Scotland, when the fatigued Brave Blossoms were over-run in the second half just four days after upsetting the Springboks. Wouldn’t they love a rematch with the Scots with equal rest. Japan also beat the U.S. Eagles for the first time in the tournament, after losses in 1987 and 2003.

It was departing coach Eddie Jones’ desire for the Brave Blossoms to leave as the team of the tournament, and after the pool stage, they do.

They go home with three wins, having arrived with only one ever previous win in the tournament, in 1991 against Zimbabwe, and attracted unprecedented interest in rugby at home, where tens of millions tuned in to watch their games on TV.

They also generated positive interest in the Rugby World Cup they will host in 2019, the first in Asia, after the Japan government put the tournament at risk in midyear by delaying construction of the showpiece stadium in Tokyo so it won’t be ready in 2019.

There was little delay in putting away the Americans.

Flyhalf Kosei Ono’s line break and chip ahead was regathered, and great hands gave left winger Kotaro Matsushima an overlap in the seventh minute.

The Eagles regained the lead with a sustained buildup, and a giant cut-out pass by fullback Chris Wyles put in winger Takudzwa Ngwenya for his first World Cup try since his 2007 highlight, when he made his name by showing up Bryan Habana in Montpellier, France.

The U.S. dropped the ball at the restart, Yoshikazu Fujita flashed in, and he finished the move by scoring in — of all places for a winger — a rolling maul.

Ayumu Goromaru’s second conversion and first penalty sent them into halftime 17-8 up, and 20-8 coming out.

Ngwenya looked bound for a second try until he was run down from behind by replacement flanker Amanaki Mafi, who scored a try while U.S. prop Eric Fry was in the sin-bin for a professional foul.

The U.S. closed with a Wyles try from a huge miss-out pass by AJ MacGinty to get within seven points with eight minutes to go, but Goromaru’s fifth goal from six attempts eased any Japan nerves.