Australia survive late scare to defeat Japan and extend winning streak


Japan 23 Australia 32

Australia had a scare late in the game but held on to kick off their season-ending tour with a 32-23 win over Japan in Oita on Saturday and extend their winning streak to five tests.

Wingers Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia crossed paths for first-half tries, while forwards Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota and Connal McInerney added points after the break to maintain Australia’s record of 100 in six tests against Le Japan.

Japan, who scored tries thanks to Lomano Lemeki and Ryoto Nakamura, came four points closer to a lead to 27-23 with five minutes remaining, but rookie hooker McInerney touched the back of a maul rolling to stifle hopes of a home upheaval.

“It was a really competitive game,” said Australia captain Michael Hooper. “They tested us in a lot of areas and it was a very close game at the end,” he said. “They get better every year.”

While far from a perfect performance, the Wallabies will be delighted to have extended their winning streak after back-to-back wins over world champions South Africa and Argentina to wrap up the rugby championship.

Outhalf Quade Cooper had a mixed game, sending Wright to open the scoring in the seventh minute with a neat inside pass, but also up the pass that gave Japanese center Ryoto Nakamura an interception try in the second half.

Australia’s Reece Hodge is tackled by Japan’s Ben Gunter during the Tst match at Oita Stadium. Photograph: Charly Triballeau / AFP via Getty Images

The visiting peloton did well in largely defusing the rolling maul of Japan and a bulldozer run from Tupou completed an innovative line-up move for a test just after the break.

Japan were only playing their third game since reaching the quarter-finals of the last World Cup and had some bright moments to wow the crowd, who showed their appreciation by rocking fans by show of hands.

Number eight Kazuki Himeno said he was moved to play in front of home fans and added that the team could have done more.

“To be honest, I’m disappointed,” Himeno said. “It’s like we’ve lost a winnable game.

“Big games like this can be decided by little things. We have to keep improving and come out stronger in every game. “

Lemeki’s try came with a delicious crossover from Rikiya Matsuda in the corner, and there were flashes of enterprising rugby that set their campaign for the 2019 World Cup apart.

Matsuda’s second penalty helped the Brave Blossoms get closer to the Australians at 14-13 after 33 minutes, but they still continued the game.

After a 63-30 draw the last time the two sides met in 2017, however, the fact that Yu Tamura’s long-distance penalty put Japan in a position to snatch a win illustrates the progress they’ve made. have accomplished in recent years.

Both teams are now heading to Europe, where Australia will face Scotland, England and Wales, and Japan will face Ireland, Portugal and the Scots in November testing.

JAPAN: S Masirewa; L Lemeki, T Lafaele, R Nakamura, S Fifita; R Matsuda, Y Nagare; K Inagaki, A Sakate, J Koo; J Cornelsen, J Moore; B Gunter, L Labuschagne, K Himeno.

Replacements: Y Tamura for Masirewa, C Millar for K Inagaki (both 48 minutes), Y Tokunaga for Gunter (49), D Riley for Lemeki (58), N Saito for Nagare (63), Y Niwai for Sakate, A Ai Valu for Koo, T Tatafu for Himeno (all 70).

AUSTRALIA: R Hodge; T Wright, L Ikitau, H Paisami, A Kellaway; Q Cooper, N White; J Pantoufle, F Fainga’a, T Tupou; I Rodda, M Philip; R Leota, M Hooper, R Valetini.

Substitutes: J Petaia for Hodge (14 min), G Bell for Slipper, A Ala’alatoa for Tupou, D Swain for Philip (all 53), P Samu for Leota (57), T McDermott for White (63), C McInerney for F Fainga’a (70), J O’Connor for Cooper (75).

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