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Canada 23-23 Japan, Rugby World Cup, September 27
Kirwan hails Brave Blossoms
ESPNscrum Staff
September 27, 2011
Japan's Takashi Kikutani bids farewell to the World Cup, Canada v Japan, Rugby World Cup, McLean Park, Napier, New Zealand, September 27, 2011
Japan's Takashi Kikutani bids farewell to the World Cup © Getty Images
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Japan head coach John Kirwan praised his side's battling spirit as the Brave Blossoms bid farewell to the World Cup with a 23-23 draw with Canada.

A strong first-half performance from Kirwan's team had put them in command at 17-7 at half-time but the Canucks fought back in the second half to secure a draw and prolong Japan's 20-year wait for a win in the tournament.

Despite watching his side concede the half-time advantage in Napier, Kirwan was satisfied with Japan's performance.

"I think the boys played their hearts ouy, I'm very proud of them," Kirwan said. "They did a good job today and a win would have been great but I think that we just have to keep working hard."

The former All Blacks winger added: "I thought we'd done enough to win the game. I'm obviously disappointed, I thought we had it.

"A few too many errors in the second half cost us dearly. That's the way the game goes sometimes, but I'm disappointed. I don't think we eased off at all. I think Canada showed desperation to try and get the game back, all credit to them."

Canada coach Kieran Crowley also lamented the number of mistakes his side made but was ultimately satisfied with the draw.

"From our perspective I thought we played some reasonable rugby in the first half, but our handling errors let us down and put the pressure straight back. You can't afford to score points and then make a mistake which puts them straight back into it," he said.

"The second half we didn't play it as smart as we should have. It wasn't until the last 10 minutes that we started to move the ball outside those inside channels and we started to create a bit of go-forward. Disappointed in that aspect but pleased that we get two points out of it."

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