Japan keep quarter-final hopes alive with win over Samoa
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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