Japan to play first quarter-final in history
By Mike Godfrey
Japans extreme accuracy of passing and handling skills coupled with quick, clean flowing continuity of the ball saw them inflict a clinical victory over a gallant Scotland. The victory secured them their first-ever Rugby World Cup quarter-final in history.
Scotland opened the scoring when flyhalf, Fin Russell showed a deft turn of feet beating two defenders dotting down just right of the posts. This seemed to energise Japan to another level, producing a magnificent try out wide sending their South African born, dazzling right-winger Kotaro Matsushima over for their first try of the match and his fifth of the tournament.
Special mention needs to be made of the Japanese star players.
Their captain, Michael Leitch led by example and had a thunderous game causing havoc at the break downs. Both wingers had the vocal crowd on their feet as they blitzed in three breath-taking tries with Man of the Match, Kenki Fukuoka showing his class, pace and power crossing over for two brilliant tries.
Japan held a 21-7 lead at halftime leaving the Scots with a mountain to climb. This lead was soon extended when Fukuoka snatched the ball from the attacking Scotland player and outsprinted the defence to score under the poles pushing the score to 28-7.
This was the turning point of the game as Scotland needed to win by eight points to go through to the quarter-finals which proved to be too much. Scotland’s flyhalf, Finn Russell capped a fine performance including his try while the remaining two went to South African born prop, WP Nel and Zander Fager.
The final score, 28-21 ensured that Japan now meets the Springboks in the last quarter-final of the weekend on Sunday. Japan’s famous 2015 Rugby World Cup win over the Springboks in England will surely be featuring prominently in the minds of the host nations players and fans alike.
The first quarter-final on Saturday sees England against Australia at 9:15 while New Zealand takes on Ireland at 12:00. On Sunday, Wales will be up against France and Japan will play South Africa at midday.
Due to Typhoon Hagibus, Namibia versus Canada game was cancelled. Results for the other games were: Ireland 47-5 Samoa, USA 19-31 Tonga, Wales 35-13 Uruguay.