Konnichiwa and Talofa and all that.
Welcome ye all to this Pool D conflict between the Bureibu Burossamuzu (Courageous Blossoms) of Nippon and Manu of Samoa. Earlier than the Samoans give their Siva Tau and we rip into the 18th instalment of this Pacific rivalry, some background is at all times helpful for context.
Rugby first got here to Samoa within the early Twenties with the Marist Brothers. And from what I can discover in regards to the interwebs, apparently their first check match performed was towards Fiji in Apia on 18 August 1924 with an 8am kick-off to keep away from the warmth of the day. Skip ahead to current instances, and Samoa appeared on the point of worldwide breakthrough within the early 2000s with wins over Australia, Wales, Scotland and Italy. However since 2014, wins towards Tier 1 nations have been as scarce as their monetary issues have been prevalent. Nonetheless, they did declare the 2022 Pacific Nations Cup with three straight wins, together with the notable scalp of Australia A. After not making the ’87 RWC, their RWC report has them as quarter-finalists in ’91, ’95 and ’99 however pool-exiters since.
Rugby got here to Japan as early as 1866 apparently, and have become properly established in universities with a proper competitors commencing in 1899. They performed their first recognised check match towards Canada in 1932. Their well-known wins are typically jagged at World Cups, typified by the seminal 34-32 disposal of South Africa in 2015, a 19-12 win over present world no1 Eire within the RWC2019. and a 28-21 victory over Scotland in the identical tourney, on the way in which to creating their sole look so far in a World Cup quarter closing.
The tally between these two fierce opponents is presently 11 wins to the Samoans and 6 to the flower farmers. The newest conflict was in late July this 12 months in a Pacific Nations Cup check the place Samoa received 24-22 to report their first victory over Japan since 2012. Regardless of Japan shedding well-known talisman Michael Leitch to a purple card within the first half, Nippon was main 22-17 with 20min to go, largely off the boot of Seungsin Lee. Nonetheless a 63min attempt to Tumua Manu, duly transformed by ex-Wobbly Christian Lealiifano, sealed the deal.
So the current kind information is with Samoa.
Jamie Joseph has made two adjustments to Japan’s beginning XV from their 12-34 loss towards England, with Lomano Lemeki coming in for Semisi Masiresa at full-back and Dylan Riley changing Tomoki Osada in midfield. In the meantime Samoa’s coach Seilala Mapusua has made 4 adjustments to his beginning XV from the 10-19 defeat to Argentina, with Taleni Seu into the back-row, Sa Jordan Taufua changing Steven Luatua at no8, Alai D’Angelo Leuila shifting into the centres, and try-scoring machine Ed Fidow taking on a spot on the wing the place he has snagged a swag of tries in current instances.
Additionally amongst Samoa’s squad for this match are 11 gamers who have been within the workforce that received a 24-22 victory towards Japan earlier this 12 months, together with eight within the beginning XV: Paul Alo-Emile, Taleni Seu, Jonathan Taumateine, Christian Leali’ifano, Tumua Manu, Ed Fidow, Duncan Paia’aua, and Danny Toala.
Japan: 15 Lomano Lemeki; 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Dylan Riley, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Jone Naikabula; 10 Rikiya Matsuda, 9 Yutaka Nagare; 8 Kazuki Himeno (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch; 5 Amato Fakatava, 4 Jack Cornelsen; 3 Jiwon Gu, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
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
Samoa: 15 Duncan Paia’aua; 14 Ed Fidow, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Alai D’Angelo Leuila, 11 Ben Lam; 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine; 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Fritz Lee, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Theo McFarland, 4 Chris Vui (captain); 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 James Lay
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo,17 Jordan Lay, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Neria Fomai, 23 Danny Toala
Venue: Stadium de Toulouse
Kick-off: Thursday night time 2100hrs French native or Friday 0500hrs Sydney time.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Craig Evans (Wales) helping and Marius Jonker (South Africa) within the TX Field-seat.
Nutta’s fearless prediction (aka ‘kiss of dying’): Whereas the Blossoms will certainly be courageous, the bookmakers are clearly favouring Samoa at 8/15 favourites as of Thursday morning. However the match will pivot round Samoa’s self-discipline. If Samoa keep in Jaco’s good-books, they’ll win by 12. But when not, Japan no10 & kicker Rikiya Matsuda will apply his 10/10 for 100% accuracy for the event so far and steal the present. So I’ve a sneaky $10 on Nippon as insurance coverage.
Be happy to chime in beneath in feedback and I’ll do a write-up after the match.
Morning Cobbers. It’s 0450hrs Sydney time, I’ve my Nescafe and a little bit of vegemite toast. It appears like the perimeters are unchanged and it’s to be a Samoan kickoff in-front of a packed Toulouse home. So let’s get this on.
H1: Everybody knew Samoan self-discipline could be the important thing to this match however surprisingly it was Japan who earned the ire of Jaco first with a penalty to Samoa inside the first min. Samoan no12 Alai D’Angelo Leuila missed his shot although. The Samoans stayed camped within the Japanese half for the following 5min interval, however a number of promising alternatives got here to nothing.
Japan was deploying their regular method of quick play, fast lineouts and recycles and excessive go counts, seeking to minimise the scale benefit of Samoa by tempo and multi-man tackles. Samoa was responding by robust set piece, efficient mauling and splattering Japanese gamers with bollocking runs and smashing tackles.
After 5-6min of midfield backward and forward, a usually fast Japan mid-field/proper scrum noticed the ball swing to the left wing quick and Japan scored a pleasant half-field attempt at 13min to no7 Pieter Labuschagne, duly transformed by Matsuda. 7-0 Japan.
From the restart, usually robust Samoan operating and scrumming earns successive attacking scrums and lineouts deep in Japanese territory. However as 20min ticks over, the Samoans can’t capitalise. Final passes aren’t sticking and are letting Japan off the stress hook.
Lastly at 24min, a turnover penalty noticed Samoan D’Angelo Leuila get Samoa on the board with 3pts. 7-3 Japan. However at 27min, an off-feet ruck penalty earns Matsuda a penalty shot in-reply from middle subject, simply inside Samoan half. He doesn’t miss and it’s 10-3 Japan.
As 30min one other Japanese midfield scrum sees Samoa take a double whammy as a sideline to sideline attacking raid produces lightening quick ball and a attempt to Leitch within the left nook plus a cheese to Samoan no9 Taumateine for behind the play shenanigans. Matsuda slots the conversion as 33min clocks up. Japan 17-3 and Samoa is in all types of strife.
Rinse and repeat as extra midfield energy operating sees Samoa push deep into Japanese territory. However with no 9 to coordinate and hyperlink, it’s clumsy. At 36min, Japanese no2 Shota Horie earns cheese for an upright sort out and head conflict. Samoa pushes to yet one more attacking lineout on the Japanese 5m line and with a clear throw and a properly set maul, they bag a Samoan attempt to no2 Lam at 38min. The wide-out conversion by Samoan no10 Leali’ifano missed. 17-8 Japan at 39min and so it stays till oranges.
H2: Japan kicked off the 2nd half with the information that Horie’s cheese stayed a cheese and the opening exchanges have been non-descript exchanges of scrums, lineouts and midfield probing. At 43min a improbable Lelifano 50/22 earned Samoa an attacking lineout to unleash successive Samoan midfield runners. However a courageous Japanese jackal launched the stress once more. Samoa weren’t executing.
In reply, Japan compelled a lineout close to the Samoan quarter line and usually neat and environment friendly play noticed Japan phasing and recycling till Samoan no11 Lam gave away a excessive sort out cheese at 46min (later upgraded to purple on evaluate). The ensuing Japanese penalty/lineout was properly mauled, drew one other penalty and maul which was a pie to no8 Himeno at 49min, sending the rating out to 22-8 Japan.
After midfield meanderings from the restart, good Japanese scrum work at 54min noticed Matsuda shoot for 3pts once more. 25-8 to Japan. And from there Samoa continued to let themselves down as exhausting, direct operating was punching holes into Japanese defence constantly, however poor dealing with and poor self-discipline regularly let Japan off the hook.
Play see-sawed about for the following 10-15min as 14man Samoa tried to up the tempo and energy and Japan gamely held them out, spearheaded by nice defensive work by no6 Leitch and no4 Jack Cornelsen in-particular. Nonetheless lastly at 65min, after wave after wave of Samoan massive males smashing down centre subject, Samoan no15 Duncan Paia’aua took receipt of a fast wider ball close to the touchline and scored. Leali’ifano’s wide-angle conversion shot was bang-on and at 66min it was 25-15 Japan.
Fatigue was telling on the Samoans although, and a 68min enormous Japanese midfield scrum effort noticed the Courageous Blossoms raid deep into Samoa’s quarter and earn an attacking penalty lineout & maul. However usually brave defensive play by Samoan Captain Fritz Lee killed the play and the second was misplaced. That mentioned, play stayed camped within the Samoan half and the seemingly inevitable 73rd minute breakdown penalty, instantly in entrance and 30metres, noticed Matsuda land one other 3ptr. 28-15 Japan.
From the kick-off exchanges, poor Japanese midfield scrum work engineered a Samoan penalty and attacking lineout contained in the Japanese quarter at 76min. And the ensuing Samoan midfield pounding lastly noticed Leali’ifano crash over at 77min subsequent to the posts. He sauced his personal pie and the rating was 28-22 Japan at 78min.
From the kickoff, Samoa swung the ball about searching for the miracle, however Japan doggedly defended every thing. And whereas a late Japanese ruck infringement allowed Samoa to push for a closing lineout alternative into the Japanese half, the dream comeback was to not be. A uncommon fluffed Samoan lineout allowed Japan to belt the ball into contact and for Jaco to blow the pea the ultimate time.
Finish rating, 28-22 to Japan.
Mata Ato De (またあとで).
The Sport Changer
Samoan possession and energy operating didn’t flip into sufficient factors as execution and self-discipline allow them to down at important moments. Whereas Japan’s two long-range strikes from precision scrum-work within the first half set the buffer that might not be overcome. In the end, as anticipated, it was self-discipline that turned the day. If I needed to decide a second, the tacky binning of Samoan no9 Taumateine late within the first half was it, because it meant the Samoans couldn’t exploit their glut of possession and energy operating to attain the tries they in any other case could have. And naturally, Lam’s cheesy-red at 46min hardly then helped.
The Man of the Match/Standout Participant
For me, it went to Japanese no6 Michael Leitch with round 7 carries for 60 metres, a swag of tackles and a pie. However sponsors disagreed and it was formally awarded to Kiwi born Japanese no15 Lomano Lemeki, so congratulations to him.
The Particulars: Half time: 17-8 Japan, Full time: 28-22 Japan.
Tries: Labuschagne (13min), Leitch (31min) Hlmeno (49min)
Conversions: Matsuda (13min, 32min missed at 49min)
Penalties: Matsuda (27min, 55min 73min) Playing cards: Yellow 36min (Horie)
Tries: Lam (37min) Paia’aua (65min) Leali’ifano (77min)
Conversions: Leali’ifano (65min, 78min miss 38min)
Penalties: D’Angelo Leuila (25min, miss 1min). Playing cards: Yellow 32min (Taumateine) Purple 46min (Lam)