Japan on brink of first World Cup quarter-final with Samoa win

Japan on brink of first World Cup quarter-final with Samoa win

Japan on brink of first World Cup quarter-final with Samoa win

Surely Japan must be in love with rugby by now.

But the Brave Blossoms' rampant form means they may have already wrapped up a first-ever place in the quarterfinals by then.

Japan is a step closer after winning a bruiser of an encounter 38-19 against the proud Samoans.

Japan has embraced the Brave Blossoms, here celebrating their win over Samoa.

And even that wasn't the final drama.

It could be the difference between a fearless showing and rugby history.

The win leaves the Pool A table looking like this, with Japan top on 14 points.

Kotaro Matsushima scored Japan's bonus point try.

He said: "Japan were deserved winners". "It was hard to get and it may be important".

Japan won three games at the 2015 World Cup under Eddie Jones and still failed to reach the knockout phase - a fact not lost on Joseph. The Japanese know about fine margins. Trailing by just seven in the last 10 minutes, Samoa camped inside Japan's half and appeared set to score.

Samoa and Japan players show appreciation to the fans following the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group A game.

"We will take the lessons from this", Samoa captain Jack Lam said.

"Scotland are a very, very good team", said Joseph.

Social media numbers were also impressive, as #RWC2019 topped the global trends on opening night, with more than 624.5 million views of the official Rugby World Cup GIFs on the Giphy Channel.

Bitterly disappointed, Samoa coach Steve Jackson could appreciate the moment.

"We never wanted be on the receiving end of their physicality". "The crowd was fantastic".

Asked about the pressure on Japan, who beat Russian Federation (30-10) before stunning Ireland (19-12) in their first two games, Joseph called for perspective.

But Saturday in Toyota the Japanese were favorites and the pressure bore down on them to not mess up.

A win without a bonus point over Japan would see Scotland through as long as they deny Japan a bonus-point of any kind (assuming Ireland beat Samoa). "That's how silly it's become". Scotland have two games remaining and are on five points with Samoa and Russian Federation already out of contention.

Ireland top the pool on 11 points from three games, while Japan have nine and Samoa and Scotland are on five, having all played two games. The ball then went to South African-born Kotaro Matsushina, who started a dazzling run that took him 3m out from the tryline.

The hosts could also consider themselves fortunate that lock James Moore avoided a yellow card for a late hit on full-back Tim Nanai-Williams at the end of a tight first half.

But Samoa set up the finish when center Henry Taefu spun out of a tackle and went over. "So we'll just wait and see how they get on against Russian Federation".

Matsushima's try came in the 85th minute, and triggered wild celebrations among the 39,695-strong crowd at City of Toyota Stadium.

Scotland face Russian Federation prior to the crucial meeting with the Brave Blossoms in Yokohama, who may well find a bonus point in defeat to Gregor Townsend's side is enough to send them through to the last eight.

Deep in time added on, Japan summoned one more thrust from its outstanding forwards and won possession back through a free kick. Japan scrummed again, and eventually moved the ball left to the short side, where Matsushima slipped through a half gap and had enough momentum to go over.

From that moment it was all about Scotland.

Ten days ago, Joseph said his team needed "to play the game of their lives to beat Ireland". "It's building up to be a real ripper".

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