Whangarei - Tonga broke Japanese hearts and
extended their record Rugby World Cup win drought on Wednesday with an
action-packed 31-18 victory in Pool A.
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Sixteen points from the
boot of Tongan flyhalf Kurt Morath made the difference as Japan slumped
to their 17th consecutive World Cup defeat and failed in their bid to
win two games at this tournament.
Tonga had the better of a
helter-skelter first half 18-13 and they attacked from the kick-off when
scrumhalf Taniela Moa was held up just inches short in the first
attack of the game.
Viliami Ma'afu crossed the line minutes later
but replays showed he was held up by some desperate Japanese defending.
But the video referee had no problem with Ma'afu's second effort when he
picked up and charged over from a five metre scrum.
back when wing Kosuke Endo made a clean line-break and prop Kensuke
Hatakeyama mauled his way over the line in the 13th minute.
again from the kick-off, Tonga had a simple score when they secured
their own ball and from a ruck, secondrow Tukulua Lokotui was released
for a simple score on the left.
Alisi Tupuailai nearly ran the
length of a pitch for an intercept try before being tackled but Ryan
Nicholas then broke to set up Japan's second score when Michael Leitch
came on to an inside pass on the right wing and barged through a wall of
Tonga's Morath kicked a penalty from 22m and another
when Japan's goal-kicking flyhalf James Arlidge was sin-binned for
But they were unable to make the numerical advantage
count and it was Japan's stand-in kicker Shaun Webb who coolly kept the
Brave Blossoms in touch 13-18 with a penalty close to half-time.
knocked over a penalty shortly after the break and Fetu'u Vainikolo
provided the killer blow with a brilliant finish from the right wing for
Tonga's third try.
Samoan-born Alisi Tupuaili kept Japanese hopes
alive when he gathered a crossover pass and scored on 63 minutes, but
some more last-ditch attacking from the Brave Blossoms could not prevent
the stinging defeat.
Tonga, currently ranked 15, have won five of
their 12 games against Japan but they last beat the Brave Blossoms way
back in 2006.
Japan's final game is against Canada in Napier next Tuesday while Tonga play France in Wellington on October 1.Teams:
15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Alipate Fatafehi, 11 Sukanaivalu Hufanga, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Viliami Ma'afu, 7 Sione Vaiomo'unga, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Paino Hehea, 4 Tukulua Lokotui, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Aleki Lutui (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha
Substitutes: 16 Aloisio Ma'asi, 17 Alisona Taumalolo, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Joseph Tu'ineau, 20 Samiu Vahafolau, 21 Samisoni Fisilau, 22 Viliame Iongi
15 Shaun Webb, 14 Kosuke Endo, 13 Alisi Tupuailai, 12 Ryan Nicholas, 11 Hirotoki Onozawa, 10 James Arlidge, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Takashi Kikutani (captain), 7 Michael Leitch, 6 Itaru Taniguchi, 5 Toshizumi Kitagawa, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Hisateru Hirashima
Substitutes: 16 Yusuke Aoki, 17 Nozomu Fujita, 18 Hitoshi Ono, 19 Sione Talikavili Vatuvei, 20 Atsushi Hiwasa, 21 Takehisa Usuzuki, 22 Murray Williams