Japan complete series win over USA
November 22, 2008
The United States' Todd Clever claims a lineout ball during the clash at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground in Tokyo
© Getty Images
Japan made history Saturday by beating the United States for the second straight time, winning a hard fought encounter at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground 32-17.
It was the first time in 18 meetings that Japan has recorded back-to-back wins over the Eagles and left coach John Kirwan a happy man. "I am very, very proud of the players," Kirwan said. "We talked about history and beating them in consecutive games. That was a really tough physical and mental performance."
Kensuke Hatakeyama, Koji Tomioka, Shaun Webb and Takashi Kikutani all crossed for Japan, with Ryan Nicholas adding three conversions and two penalties.
The Eagles' points came from tries by Chris Wyles, Takudzwa Ngwenya and John Van Der Giessen with Mike Hercus successful with one conversion.
"It was an entertaining game," said Eagles coach Scott Johnson. "There were some good tries. If I was a spectator I would have enjoyed it. But I am a coach so I didn't."
The Eagles got off to the ideal start with Wyles crossing with just two minutes on the clock. Japan fought back, however, and Hatakeyama finished off a superb driving maul to bring the sides level.
The Japan backs then took over with Tomioka and Webb crossing following superb backline moves and Japan seemed to be in the driving seat. But Yusuke Aoki and Bryce Robins were sent to the sin bin within two minutes of each other and Ngwenya made the extra men count, sprinting over to make it 19-10 at the break.
Nicholas opened the second half with a penalty before another historic moment - the first try in Japan to be awarded by the Television Match Official as Van Der Giessen won the race to touch down a charged down kick. Kikutani then showed just why he was picked as Japan's new captain.
The flanker came into the line out wide and, following a slight show of the ball, sprinted over for the decisive try in the 63rd minute.
"Kiku has really stood up and taken on the leadership role," said Kirwan. "This has been a really positive month for us."
Japan (19) 32
USA (10) 17
Japan: Kaoru Matsushita (Yamaha Jubilo), Kosuke Endo (Toyota Verblitz), Bryce Robins (NEC Green Rockets), Ryan Nicholas (Suntory Sungoliath), Koji Tomioka (Yamaha Jubilo), Shaun Webb (World Fighting Bull), Fumiaki Tanaka (Sanyo Wild Knights), Hisateru Hirashima (Kobelco Steelers), Yusuke Aoki (Suntory Sungoliath), Kensuke Hatakeyama (Suntory Sungoliath), Hitoshi Ono (Toshiba Brave Lupus), Toshizumi Kitagawa (Toyota Verblitz), Michael Leitch (Tokai University), Takashi Kikutani (Toyota Verblitz, captain), Ryu Koliniasi Holani (Sanyo Wild Knights)
Replacements: Naonori Mizuyama (NEC Green Rockets), Naoki Kawamata (Sanyo Wild Knights), Luke Thompson (Kintetsu Liners), Masato Toyoda (Toyota Verblitz), Masakazu Irie (Sanyo Wild Knights), Piei Mafileo (Nihon University)
USA: Chris Wyles (Saracens), Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz), Paul Emerick (Overmach Parma), Junior Sifa (Middleton), Gavin DeBartolo (Eastern Suburbs), Mike Hercus (IBM), Mike Petri (NYAC), Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie), Mark Crick (Potomac Athletic Club), Brian Lemay (Boston Irish Wolfhounds), John VanderGiessen (Denver Barbarians), Hayden Smith (Saracens), Inaki Basauri (Agen), Todd Clever (Xerox Lions, captain), Pat Quinn (Denver Barbarians)
Replacements: Joseph Welch (Cal), Matekitonga Moeakiola (Unattached), Courtney Mackay (Auckland Development), J.J. Gagiano (University of Cape Town), Chad Erskine (Rotherham), Thretton Palamo (Biarritz), Valenese Malifa (Belmont Shore)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship