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Japan make just two important changes for Samoa challenge

NICE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 17: Lomano Lemeki of Japan looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Japan at Stade de Nice on September 17, 2023 in Nice, France. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Japan’s head coach, Jamie Joseph, has revealed the lineup for their upcoming clash against Samoa in Pool D, scheduled at Stadium de Toulouse on September 28.

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In the starting XV, Dylan Riley takes the outside-center spot from Tomoki Osada, while Lomano Lemeki steps in for the injured Semisi Masiresa as full-back. These are the only changes from their last game against England, which ended in a 34-12 loss.

Lemeki returns as a starter for the first time since October 23, 2021, when they faced Australia. In the previous match against England, he made a significant impact off the bench, gaining 54 meters, the second-highest for Japan.

Japan fields four players who’ve faced Samoa in both RWC 2015 and 2019 – Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki, Michael Leitch, and Kotaro Matsushima.

Amato Fakatava had a standout debut against Samoa this year, making 90 meters, beating six defenders, and not missing a tackle, completing all 10 attempts. Jack Cornelsen has been strong in the lineout, with two steals against Samoa and four in RWC 2023, alongside Michael Leitch, the only forwards to play every minute in the tournament so far.

Seungsin Lee could make his RWC debut, after scoring 17 points against Samoa in July, converting all six attempts from the tee.

Fixture
Rugby World Cup
Japan
28 - 22
Full-time
Samoa
All Stats and Data

JAPAN TEAM TO FACE SAMOA AT STADIUM DE TOULOUSE

1 Keita Inagaki
2 Shota Horie
3 Jiwon Gu
4 Jack Cornelsen
5 Amato Fakatava
6 Michael Leitch
7 Pieter Labuschagne
8 Kazuki Himeno (c)
9 Yutaka Nagare
10 Rikiya Matsuda
11 Jone Naikabula
12 Ryoto Nakamura
13 Dylan Riley
14 Kotaro Matsushima
15 Lomano Lemeki

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Replacements:
16 Atsushi Sakate
17 Craig Millar
18 Asaeli Ai Valu
19 Warner Dearns
20 Kanji Shimokawa
21 Naoto Saito
22 Seungsin Lee
23 Tomoki Osada

Team Form

Last 5 Games

2
Wins
2
2
Streak
1
12
Tries Scored
15
-33
Points Difference
25
1/5
First Try
1/5
1/5
First Points
2/5
2/5
Race To 10 Points
1/5
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