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Rugby World Cup: Japan beats Samoa and remains in the race for the quarter-finals

Finally attractive! Japan had a great evening in Toulouse, Thursday September 28, logically beating Samoa (28-22), a victory which maintains the hope of a Japanese qualification for the quarter-finals, at the same time as it eliminates the Pacific players in the race for the first two places in Group D, despite the defensive bonus point.

Beaten by the English during their last match (12-34), the “Brave Blossoms » won their second success in the competition after their inaugural victory against Chile (42-12). If first place in the group seems promised to England, Japan will finish second if they beat Argentina on the last day, October 8.

To afford the right to compete in this real round of 16, the Japanese therefore dominated Samoa for the third consecutive time in the World Cup after their successes in 2015 and 2019. Their victory is also important in the context of the race to direct qualification for the next World Cup, in 2027 in Australia, since the first three in each group will be invited directly. If the Samoans fail to beat England – something they have never managed to do in their history – in their last match, they will also give up on this goal.

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“Qualifying for the next World Cup is a real opportunity for us and this last match against England is also an opportunity to leave this World Cup on a good note”has already announced the Samoan coach, Seilala Mapusua.

Head already turned towards Nantes

More dynamic and enterprising than in their last outings, the Japanese logically opened the scoring on Thursday evening, thanks to their second row Pieter Labuschagne (7-0, 13e). Very to his advantage on the feet since the start of the competition (15/16), the opening half Rikiya Matsuda then found Mickaël Leitch for the break try (17-3, 32e).

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Reduced to fourteen in this action after the yellow card of their scrum half Jonathan Taumateine, the Samoans, playing far too stereotyped, nevertheless returned to the match just before the break by taking advantage of the temporary expulsion of Japanese hooker Shota Horie to a high tackle. Sanctioned for the seventh time, Japan was already above its average of the first two matches (six) and Samoan hooker Seilala Lam, on a penetrating group, then punished their indiscipline (17-8).

It was captain Kazuki Himeno, in force, who finally gave his team some breathing room while the Samoans were definitely reduced to fourteen after the yellow card very quickly transformed into a red from Ben Lam for a head tackle (22- 8.49e). “Our style of play is based on speed, it’s an area where we improve from match to match and that’s very important for the future,” rejoiced the Japanese captain at the end of the meeting.

In numerical superiority, the Japanese relaxed at the end of the match, leaving the Samoans with the defensive bonus point. Their heads are probably already turned towards Nantes and the decisive match that awaits them, on October 8.

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The World with AFP

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