Japan qualify for Rugby World Cup
May 22, 2010
Japan's Kosuke Endo's try guaranteed that his side will return to the Rugby World Cup stage next year © Getty Images
Japan booked their place at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and secured the Asian Five Nations title with a thumping 94-5 victory over Hong Kong in their clash at Tokyo's Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground.
The win gives Japan 12 bonus-point wins from as many games in the three-year history of the tournament, and not only confirms their status as the No.1 team in Asia but also sees them become the 19th team to qualify for RWC'11 in New Zealand. It will be the seventh straight World Cup for Japan, who join hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and Canada in Pool A of next year's showpiece.
Alisi Tupuialei started the rout with a try in just the second minute and added a second in the 13th minute, six minutes after Koji Taira had scored Japan's second five-pointer. Kosuke Endo guaranteed Japan's qualification in the 18th minute when he touched down to bring up the bonus point Japan needed. From there on in, it was simply a question of how many points Japan could rack up.
Tupuailei brought up his hat-trick in the 31st minute following some good work by Endo and Masakazu Toyota as Japan averaged a point a minute, leading 31-0 at the half-hour mark. Ryu Koliniasi Holani powered over in the 35th minute, the big No. 8 proving unstoppable from a scrum five meters out and with Ryan Nicholas adding the extras it was 38-0.
Shaun Webb ensured Japan got over the point-a-minute by halftime as he ran over unopposed and then added the conversion for good measure as Japan led 45-0 at the break. The second half was only five minutes old when Fumiaki Tanaka went over from a scrum 5 as Japan ensured the pressure was relentless.
Endo picked up his second try in the 50th minute following quick ball at the line-out and a good inside pass from Nicholas and with Webb adding the conversion it was 59-0. Shota Horie showed great strength to go over in the 53rd minute and not even a change in kicker could stop the flow of points as James Arlidge slotted over the conversion. A try Kaoru Matsushita and conversions by Arlidge made it 73-0 before Mark Wright made the most of a poor kick by Arlidge to go over for a consolation try.
Hong Kong's job got even harder when Rory Hussey was sent to the sin bin in the 61st minute and Japan made the most of their numerical advantage with Hiroki Yuhara and Tomoki Yoshida crossing to make it 87-5. A try and conversion by Arlidge put Japan within a converted try of the century.
Goshi Tachikawa seemed to have made it 99 with a try three minutes after the hooter but the try was disallowed after the referee adjudged Tachikawa to have thrown a punch. Tachikawa was shown a red card and the crowd showed their displeasure, booing long after the final whistle.
Hong Kong's miserable day was completed when Kazakhstan booked second place in the table with a 32-25 bonus point victory over South Korea. Kazakhstan now face a cross-continental play-off against Uruguay in July. The winner of that clash will play off against Romania or the winners of Ukraine v Tunisia for the final World Cup spot alongside Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia in Pool B.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin