Canada v Japan, Rugby World Cup, September 27
Brave Blossoms eye first win
September 25, 2011
Japan flanker Michael Leitch scores against Tonga © Getty Images
Japan take on Pool A rivals Canada as they search for their first victory of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in their final match of the tournament.
Japan have not won a World Cup match in 20 years and have already lost to France, New Zealand and Tonga in this tournament, despite winning many admires for their adventurous style. Their fighting spirit gave France a scare in their opening match of the tournament and then they almost upset Tonga in an enthralling match in Whangarei.
A bonus-point victory over the Canucks could also raise John Kirwan's team above the Canadian in a competitive Pool A. However the Canucks have the points on the table following their 25-20 win over Tonga in their opening game. Victory for Canada, who still have a game in hand, would surely seal third place in Pool A with Tonga playing France in their final match.
Canada - Player to Watch: Adam Kleeberger has been one of Canada's standout players at the World Cup and the 6 ft 5 in blindside flanker will be determined to finish on a high against Japan.
Canada - Team News: Canada boss Kieran Crowley has been Mr Consistent with his team selections so far but for the first time in the tournament he names a changed starting XV. However, there is just one swap with Ciaran Hearn being replaced by Matt Evans on the right wing. On the bench Nanyak Dala makes way for Jeremy Kyne..
Japan - Player to Watch: Despite 17 tries in 40 internationals, winger Kosuke Endo has yet to score in this year's World Cup. However he has been hugely impressive for Japan and against Tonga he gained 73 metres as well as securing four turnovers on the wing.
Japan - Team News: Japan head coach John Kirwan has made two changes to his starting line-up with Nozomu Fujita taking over at tight-head prop from Kensuke Hatakeyama, who drops to the bench, and Sione Talikavili Vatuvei replacing Itaru Taniguchi at blindside flanker.
Key Battle: Japan fly-half James Arlidge has impressed for the Brave Blossoms in the playmaker role while Ander Monro will look to dictate the game from No.10 for the Canucks.
Trivia:Canada's Ander Munro is the grandson of Lord Hector Munro - the former president of the Scottish Rugby Union.
Stats: Hirotoki Onozawa is Japan's second highest try scorer in international rugby with 43 in 67 Tests.
"I won't be changing anything from the past. Same as usual, keep going and I think it's all about individual preparation now. The guys need to prepare for a big game of rugby, which I'm sure they'll do." - Japan coach John Kirwan vows to maintain the Brave Blossoms' attacking tactics
"I think it helps that we have a bunch of guys that look like homeless guys and a bunch of blue-collar guys putting in the hard work." - Canada centre Ryan Smith reveals the secret behind garnering support in New Zealand
Prediction: Japan to dazzle for periods again but Canada's extra aggression and physicality to deny the Brave Blossoms.
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