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Japan keep quarter-final hopes alive with win over Samoa

By Josh Raisey
Jone Naikabula and Dylan Riley of Japan embrace during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Japan and Samoa at Stadium de Toulouse on September 28, 2023 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Pauline Ballet - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

England qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup after Japan saw off 14-man Samoa 28-22 in Toulouse to keep alive their own hopes of progressing to the knockout stage.

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The Brave Blossoms go on to face Argentina in the final round of Pool D matches – and only one of them will join Steve Borthwick’s side, who are confirmed as group winners ahead of their clash with Samoa due to their superior head-to-head record, in the knockout phase.

Japan, who reached the last eight for the first time four years ago as hosts, opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Pieter Labuschagne stretched over in the corner and Rikiya Matsuda converted.

A penalty from D’Angelo Leuila got Samoa, without captain Chris Vui through a late change, on the board, but Matsuda’s kick soon restored Japan’s advantage.

Michael Leitch added another try in the corner before Samoa’s Jonathan Taumateine was sent to the sin bin after a shoulder barge in the build-up.

Japan hooker Shota Horie was then shown a yellow card for making head-on-head contact as he stood up in a challenge with Seilala Lam, which went to the TMO for a bunker review but was not upgraded.

Match Summary

3
Penalty Goals
1
3
Tries
3
2
Conversions
2
0
Drop Goals
0
87
Carries
145
6
Line Breaks
2
7
Turnovers Lost
14
3
Turnovers Won
6

Samoa – whose final pool match with England is in Lille on October 7 – made the most of their man advantage, Lam touching down following a driving maul to go into the break trailing 17-8.

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Samoa soon found themselves a man down when Ben Lam was sent to the sin bin after the TMO spotted a high tackle into the side of Labuschagne’s head.

Japan extended their lead as Kazuki Himeno was driven over in the corner, but the usually reliable Matsuda failed to convert.

Things then got worse for Samoa when Lam’s card was upgraded to a red before Matsuda again found his range to push Japan further in front at 25-8.

Kotaro Matsushima sprinted clear for what Japan thought was a bonus-point try, but it was ruled out for the slightest of knock-ons from Dylan Riley in the build-up.

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Samoa, though, kept themselves in touch as Duncan Paia’aua went over in the corner, which Leuila converted from a tight angle only for fly-half Matsuda to push Japan clear again with another long-range penalty.

The 14 men battled on and pulled the deficit back again when Christian Leali’ifano dived over and then converted his own try, but Japan held out to set up a potential winner-takes-all showdown with Argentina in Nantes.

Rugby World Cup

Pool A
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
France
3
3
0
0
13
2
Italy
2
2
0
0
10
3
New Zealand
2
1
1
0
5
4
Uruguay
3
1
2
0
5
5
Namibia
4
0
4
0
0
Pool B
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Ireland
3
3
0
0
14
2
South Africa
3
2
1
0
10
3
Scotland
2
1
1
0
5
4
Tonga
2
0
2
0
0
5
Romania
2
0
2
0
0
Pool C
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Wales
3
3
0
0
14
2
Fiji
2
1
1
0
6
3
Australia
3
1
2
0
6
4
Georgia
2
0
1
1
2
5
Portugal
2
0
1
1
2
Pool D
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
England
3
3
0
0
14
2
Japan
3
2
1
0
9
3
Samoa
3
1
2
0
6
4
Argentina
2
1
1
0
4
5
Chile
3
0
3
0
0

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Comments

2 Comments
P
Piat 269 days ago

The use of cards minimises the assassination of the key players. Why should a team committing foul play benefit by keeping 15 men on the park?

A
Andrew 269 days ago

Another match decided by cards...as predicted. Time to adopt Rugby League's report system so 15 play 15 for whole games, not this travesty.

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Turlough 5 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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