Japan continue impressive World Cup build-up

Japan brush Tonga aside while AJ MacGinty leads USA to win over Samoa

Ananaki Lelei Mafi of Japan is held up by Tonga in Osaka. Photograph: Getty Images

Ananaki Lelei Mafi of Japan is held up by Tonga in Osaka. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A Yu Tamura-inspired Japan thrashed Tonga 41-7 in Osaka on Saturday to make it two wins from two in the Pacific Nations Cup as they continued their preparations for next month’s Rugby World Cup.

The result moved Japan to the top of the Pacific Nations Cup standings and sets up a competition decider against the United States in Suva next weekend, following the Eagles 13-10 win over Samoa earlier on Saturday.

Despite having winger Kotaro Matsushima sin-binned after four minutes, Japan dominated from the start in defence and attack, running in three tries to hold a 21-0 half-time lead.

Two Tongan-born players, number eight Amanaki Mafi and prop Asaeli Ai Valu, were among the scorers, as the Japanese proved more physical than their Pacific Island opponents.

Centre Tim Lafaele scored the third try after 30 minutes, following a dummy from the brilliant Tamura.

Tamura then added three points with a penalty shortly after half-time, before Tonga finally got on the scoresheet after 56 minutes when lock Leva Fifita went over following a period of sustained Tongan forward pressure.

However, two late tries from Matsushima and substitute Kenki Fukuoka saw Japan wrap up a comprehensive victory.

Dublin-born outhalf AJ MacGinty, meanwhile, slotted a penalty with 80 minutes on the clock to give the United States a dramatic 13-10 victory over a physical Samoa.

The US thrashed Canada 47-19 in their PNC opener in Denver last week and Sale Sharks playmaker MacGinty got them off to a good start on Saturday with the first of his two penalties after three minutes.

Samoa winger Alapati Leiua forced his way through a gap in the defensive line for the first try of the match five minutes later to put the home side 7-3 ahead, however.

MacGinty had the visitors back in front before the 20-minute mark when scrumhalf Ruben De Haas fed him on the burst and he touched down for a try he proceeded to convert.

That was the last scoring until eight minutes from time when flanker Tony Lamborn was penalised by referee Nigel Owens at the breakdown and Samoa centre Henry Taefu levelled the scores from the tee to set up the late drama.

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