Pool D: Japan 28 Samoa 22
England qualified for the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup after Japan saw off 14-man Samoa 28-22 in Toulouse to keep alive their own hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage.
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 knock-out 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.
Samoa – whose final pool match with England is in Lille on October 7th – 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 outhalf 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