Samoa 5 Japan 26: Japan coach Eddie Jones believes his players have put the pride back in Japanese rugby regardless of whether they qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals.
The Blossoms knocked out Samoa to move one step closer to progression from the pool stage, a feat the country has never achieved in seven previous attempts.
“When I took the team over four years ago I wanted to put pride back into Japanese rugby,” Jones said.
“We’ve managed to show Japan can produce a serious rugby team and does have serious rugby players.”
A penalty try and a score from Akihito Yamada ensured Japan led Samoa 20-0 at half-time and, while the Islanders managed a late consolation through Paul Perez, the result was already beyond doubt.
Progression from the group remains unlikely for Japan, though Jones will take positives regardless.
“We always said we came to this tournament with two targets. One, to be the team of the tournament and two, to make the quarter-finals.
“If we win three games we’ll probably end up team of the tournament and we’ll achieve one goal.
“If you look at the history of Japanese rugby, we’d won one World Cup game in 24 years. We’ve already doubled that. We’ve changed the history of rugby in Japan.
“Hopefully if we win next week we’ll make the quarter-finals but if not, we’ve achieved a lot for Japanese rugby.”
Samoa were outplayed throughout the 80 minutes, but they were also their own worst enemy as three players received yellow cards.
“Unfortunately our discipline from the start cost us,” Samoa coach Stephen Betham said.
Scorers for Japan:
Tries: Penalty, Yamada Cons: Goromaru 2 Pens: Goromaru 4
Scorers for Samoa:
Ayumu Goromaru, Akihito Yamada, Male Sau, Harumichi Tatekawa, Kotaro Matsushima, Kosei Ono, Fumiaki Tanaka; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Kensuke Hatakeyama, Luke Thompson, Hitoshi Ono, Michael Leitch (c), Michael Broadhurst, Ryu Koliniasi Holani
Kizu for Sau (71), Yamashita for Hatakeyama (64), Ives for H Ono (40), Mafi for Holani (59), Tui for Broadhurst (64), Hiwasa for Tanaka (71), Hesketh for Yamada (55)
Tim Nanai-Williams, Ken Pisi, Paul Perez, Johnny Leota, Alesana Tuilagi, Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Sakaria Taulafo, Ole Avei, Census Johnston, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Thompson, Ofisa Treviranus (c), TJ Ioane, Faifili Levave
Lee-Lo for A. Tuilagi (49), Afatia for Taulafo (62), Matu’u for Avei (56), Perenise for Johnston (52), Lam for Ioane (49), S. Tuilagi for Levave (72).
Craig Joubert (South Africa)
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