Japan were subdued and outmaneuvered by England in a 52-13 defeat on Saturday which underlined the daunting task ahead of the Brave Blossoms at next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The two teams are due to meet in Pool D at the tournament which begins next September in France, where Jamie Joseph’s men will also face heavyweight Argentina in their bid to qualify for the quarter-finals.
After facing the All Blacks in a 38-31 defeat two weeks ago in Tokyo, the Brave Blossoms gave away their momentum and their trying opportunities by conceding England 10 penalties at Twickenham, including several at crucial moments of the game. .
“We made a lot of mistakes and mistakes,” Japan captain Atsushi Sakate said. “We gave away so many penalties and gave them a chance with their lineout and then attacks in the maul…so I think that’s the only thing we need to fix.”
Japan’s Kazuki Himeno (L) runs with the ball during the first half of their Rugby Test match against England at Twickenham Stadium in London on November 12, 2022. (Kyodo)
Full-back Freddie Steward played for former Japan head coach Eddie Jones’ side, scoring the first try and putting pressure on the visitors under the high ball, while fly-half Marcus Smith and outside center Guy Porter have each crossed for a pair of trials.
Substitute scrum-half Naoto Saito scored Japan’s lone try in the 58th minute, receiving an offload from Warner Dearns and racing to make it 38-13 after Lee Seung Sin converted.
Naoto Saito scores a try for Japan in the second half of their Rugby Test match against England at Twickenham Stadium in London on November 12, 2022. (Kyodo)
When the teams last met at Twickenham four years ago, Japan took a 15-10 lead at the break before eventually succumbing 35-15. But there was no fear this time around for the hosts, who led 24-6 at half-time and effectively ended the game with back-to-back tries early in the second half.
After Owen Farrell launched England onto the board with a penalty, Steward crossed for his first try as they quickly pulled away from a maul in the 12th minute. The fullback also played a role on his second try, offloading to set the stage for Smith to pass into the corner.
Japan’s Dylan Riley (L) runs with the ball during the first half of their Rugby Test match against England at Twickenham Stadium in London on November 12, 2022. (Kyodo)
Successive penalties late in the half saw Japan reduce the lead to 17-6 thanks to the boot of Takuya Yamasawa, who netted his second three-point shot after England winger Jonny May was sent off in the garbage.
The visitors were unable to capitalize on the power play and handed England the opener in Porter’s try at the stroke of half-time with a turnover near their own try line.
Ellis Genge scored eight minutes into the second half and Porter ran in his second try two minutes later to make it 38-6 after Farrell added the extras. A penalty try and a second five to Smith after Japanese substitute Siosaia Fifita sinned further stretched the lead before the final whistle.
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