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Japan player ratings vs England | 2024 Lipovitan D Challenge Cup

By Josh Raisey
Japan players react during the LipovitanD Challenge Cup match between Japan and England at National Stadium on June 22, 2024 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones’ inexperienced Japan side may have slumped to a 52-17 loss in Tokyo, but there were performances that would have pleased the coach in his first game back.

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Debuts were handed out galore, but the Brave Blossoms looked like the more composed outfit early on as they made a blistering start.

England bounced back and took control of the game, but Jones has been left with some positives. Here’s how the players rated:

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15 Yoshitaka Yazaki – 5.5
For a player making his first-class debut, let alone his international debut, the 20-year-old Yazaki had a busy start with plenty of ball in hand. Faded slightly before leaving the field on 54 minutes.

14 Jone Naikabula – 5
Got himself into the game well- making breaks, hitting rucks and winning penalties. That high work rate did mean he made some errors, and he will not want to rewatch his attempt to stop Marcus Smith as the England fly-half scored his try (albeit he was slightly off balance).

Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
0
2
Tries
8
2
Conversions
6
0
Drop Goals
0
119
Carries
104
5
Line Breaks
8
15
Turnovers Lost
7
2
Turnovers Won
8

13 Samisoni Tua – 5
Thrust into the starting XV for his debut having originally been slated to start on the bench, and showed what a powerful presence he can be in the midfield for Japan.

12 Tomoki Osada – 4
Was tasked with stopping Ollie Lawrence, which he was called upon to do on plenty of occasions and did a stellar job. The finger of blame could be pointed at him for a couple of England tries though, including leaving a gap for Alex Mitchell to exploit shortly after the break, which the England scrum-half obligingly sniped through, and being caught in no man’s land for the crossfield kick to Henry Slade.

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11 Koga Nezuka – 4.5
Didn’t force his way into the game as much as Naikabula, but did bag a try.

10 Seungsin Lee – 4
A mixed outing from the fly-half. Showed some nice footwork when carrying and brought his outside backs into the game, but his kicking at times was loose and didn’t put England under enough pressure. Will regret voluntarily stepping into the right shoulder of Chandler Cunningham-South and subsequently knocking the ball on, which is not recommended for anyone.

9 Naoto Saito – 6
Saito was the linchpin in Japan’s whirlwind start early on, masterfully bringing his forwards into the game around the fringes in an ultra-high tempo start. Tried his best to continue doing so as England gained a physical superiority up front, but found it harder and harder.

1 Takayoshi Mohara – 5
A tough ask on debut up against a wily tighthead like Dan Cole, and while he made a decent start, Jones wisely took him off as he was starting to crack under the pressure of the England scrum.

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2 Mamoru Harada – 5.5
A flawless lineout display is exactly what every hooker wants on debut.

3 Shuhei Takeuchi – 4
Despite winning an early penalty up against Bevan Rodd, he struggled against the Sale Sharks loosehead at scrum time thereafter. A strong defensive showing, but props will inevitably be judged on the scrumming performance.

4 Sanaila Waqa – 4.5
A display that was not without ill-discipline, but also took the fight to England up front, including a powerful counterruck on his line to dispossess England.

5 Warner Dearns – 8
The 22-year-old New Zealand-born lock showed not only what a serious athlete he is, but that he has a very bright future in red and white. Produced a pass that any fly-half would be proud of to set up Nezuka’s try and grabbed his second assist moments later with an athletic one-handed take leading to a break.

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6 Michael Leitch – 7
Back captaining the side under Eddie Jones, and for the 37th time overall, and was integral in executing Jones’ gameplan early on, offloading in contact to almost put Faulua Makisi in for a try. Didn’t let up in his efforts despite England’s ascendency, and topped his side’s carrying and tackle count.

7 Tiennan Costley – 6.5
Was joint top alongside Leitch and Makisi in Japan’s tackle count, with ten, despite playing 20 minutes fewer than his back row teammates.

8 Faulua Makisi – 6
Carried a lot and came closest to scoring for the Brave Blossoms in the first half. Was required to roll his sleeves up defensively in the second stanza rather than getting the ball in his hands.

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Replacements
16 Atsushi Sakate – 5
Got through plenty of defensive work after coming on.

17 Shogo Miura – 5
Came on when Japan’s scrum was under pressure, but will be relieved his scrummaging was not put under the microscope as much as the starting props.

18 Keijiro Tamefusa – 5
A solid, if quiet, debut for Japan.

19 Amanaki Saumaki -5
Nothing of note from his 25-minute stint from the bench.

20 Kai Yamamoto – 6
Great break to set the platform Japan’s first try, showing some nice footwork and power. Made a statement from the bench on debut.

21 Shinobu Fujiwara – 7
Antoine Dupont is not the only scrum-half who can win breakdown penalties. Looked threatening after coming on as Japan enjoyed some of their best passages of play.

22 Rikiya Matsuda – 6
A well-rounded display for his 20-minute cameo.

23 Takuya Yamasawa – 6
Got a try after coming on, although the leg work was done by Dearns.

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finn 27 days ago

It must hurt so much to have lost the Lipovitan-D challenge cup!

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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